Cargo screening mandate to come with high price tag.

Position:SECURITY BEAT: HOMELAND DEFENSE BRIEFS
 
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A program created to scan 100 percent of all shipping containers for radiation threats before leaving foreign seaports cost more than $60 million at three of its seven pilot locations.

But that's a miniscule number of ports compared to what Congress wants, testimony at a recent Senate hearing revealed.

It has not been determined whether port facilities, foreign governments, or U.S. taxpayers will pay to expand and maintain scanners at the approximately 700 ports worldwide that export to the United States.

Despite Congress' mandate, DHS has maintained that 100 percent screening is inefficient and that a risk-based system--including data mining to determine which containers should be separated for screening--is more efficient.

In December 2006, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Energy created the Secure Freight Initiative, which seeks to prevent weapons of mass destruction from entering the United States.

"The benefit of immediate widespread deployments must be weighed against the department's funding needs to address other homeland security priorities," Jayson Ahern, CBP deputy commissioner, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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The pilot program was developed to test the feasibility of 100 percent scanning of U.S.-bound container cargo at seven ports and involved the use of...

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