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Georgia Ports mark 10th anniversary of 9/11

POSTED: September 9, 2011 12:51 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia General Assembly members, U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver, GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz and members of the Port of Savannah’s Homeland Security team commemorated the 10th anniversary of 9/11 on Wednesday at the Port of Savannah.

“As we observe the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, we should remember those that lost their life on that infamous day, but also the others who have died and sacrificed so much on the global war on terrorism,” said Kingston. “In their memory and for future generations, we need to be vigilant, prepared and engaged in world affairs.”

Many agencies are involved in port security, with multiple jurisdictions at U.S. ports. Local, state and federal agencies work together to protect the supply chain that supports American commerce. This multi-layer defense strategy ensures ports remain safe and secure.

“Since 9/11, extraordinary efforts have been taken by federal, state and local authorities to keep the Ports of Savannah and Brunswick safe,” said Tarver. “The U.S. Department of Justice has no higher priority than keeping America safe; no aspect of our work is more important or more urgent. In fulfilling this mission, we will use every tool available and we will be guided by the rule of law.”

The GPA has received approximately $12.3 million in federal port security grants and has matched those grants. These funds, as well as those invested by the GPA, have greatly increased security at the Port of Savannah since 9/11. Several key security initiatives include surveillance and detection, patrolling efforts, fencing and intrusion detection and credentialing/access control.

“Working in conjunction with our state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, we are aggressively and effectively disrupting and dismantling the criminal networks that attempt to smuggle drugs, weapons, people and other contraband through and around the Port of Savannah,” said Brock Nicholson, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta. “As the second largest container seaport on the East Coast, protecting the Port of Savannah is critical to our homeland security mission.”

At the GPA’s Garden City Terminal, radiation portal monitors have been installed at every outbound gate. These detection devices are operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP).

“Prior to 9/11, there was no screening of cargo bound for the United States from foreign ports,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Port Director Lisa Beth Brown. “Today, 100 percent of the containerized cargo that leaves the port of Savannah is screened for radiation. CBP has also made use of large scale x-ray and gamma ray machines and radiation detection devices to screen cargo. Prior to 9/11, there were only 62 non-intrusive inspection machines in the U.S. CBP now has 299 large scale NII systems deployed throughout the U.S. Since 9/11, Savannah has received and utilizes approximately $17.6 million in technology improvements.”

The GPA has also implemented a credentialing system, requiring both a Transportation Workers’ Identification Credential and a GPA credential. The GPA has also employed a team of 120 port security professionals.

“The Coast Guard is focused on strengthening and protecting the maritime global supply chain through a risk and technology based approach by evaluating vulnerabilities and reducing threats across all potential pathways,” said U.S. Coast Guard Commander Joseph B. Loring. “Under DHS, we’ve standardized local maritime port interoperability through the establishment of our Maritime Interagency Center of Operations (MICO) community. This includes the Watchkeeper Information Sharing System, which facilitates joint operations planning, and monitoring at individual ports and allows federal, state and local officials to plan and coordinate activity.”

“While much progress has been made since 9/11 protecting our ports, we must always remain vigilant and maintain our focus,” said Foltz. “The security of the international supply chain is a priority for all parties involved in commerce and homeland security.”

“The events of 9/11 have brought about many changes for this nation and for the FBI,” said Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI Atlanta Division. “As we remember and reflect on those tragic events, the FBI and its many and varied partners remain vigilant in order to prevent any future attacks on our citizens or our infrastructures. Through our Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) efforts as well as through the Georgia Information Sharing (GISAC) efforts, we feel that we are, collectively, better able to adapt to those emerging threats. The FBI is proud of the fact that, while adapting and changing as an agency, it has held intact its dedication to the rule of law and to the adherence of the principles set forth in the U.S. Constitution.”

Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 295,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $15.5 billion in income, $61.7 billion in revenue and $2.6 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy.

The Port of Savannah handled 8.6 percent of the U.S. containerized cargo volume and 12.4 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in 2010.

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