While federal security officials are understandably focused on airports, New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, says port security is still a major issue.
LoBiondo’s district includes smaller ports such as Atlantic City, Cape May and Salem, but is a neighbor to Philadelphia, which he feels is a bigger concern. An attack on one port would likely “have the effect of shutting down all of our ports until we can figure out what happened,” he notes.
Identification of port workers via biometric ID cards and electronic readers is lagging, and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of port security grants haven’t been awarded because port authorities haven’t yet come up with their share of the costs.
With $700 billion in goods passing through U.S. ports annually, their security would seem to be nearly as vital as protective measures at airports. The sheer volume of goods is a complicating factor, but cargo screening and port access controls are still key priorities, or should be.