A Simple Calculation

Last August, you’ll recall, Congress passed legislation requiring 100 percent scanning of all seaborne containers destined for the U.S. to make sure that no nuclear weapons were concealed. Compliance will be demanded by the year 2012 by all ports that ship containers to our ports, and three pilot projects were set up using X-ray or gamma-ray imaging systems and radiation detection technology.

The U.S. administration reported that one of the pilot projects – in the UK port of Southampton – “seems to be successful”. But not everyone agrees with that assessment.

According to a confidential memo leaked to Lloyd’s List that summarized the results of a six-month trial period at Southampton, along with “preliminary contributions from EU member states”, the European Commission concluded a “simple calculation” of total cost relative to the number of scanned US-bound containers gives an average cost/container that exceeds $ 500, which, of course, would be channeled through shippers and the transport industry and on to the end user. That’s how the game is always played.

The Southampton trial involved the checking for radiation of 90,000 containers at the port gates, and another 5,500 US-bound containers were x-rayed for non-intrusive imaging of the container contents. The trial cost a total of “US $ 18 million”, it was reported. And naturally, the cost is always reported in US dollars because the ultimate cost is taken from the pockets of U.S. consumers.

The report cited a letter from the European Commission to US authorities calling the proposal a “unilateral” US law. One hundred percent scanning might “create a false sense of security”, the letter stated, could even “undermine security by diverting scarce resources from other essential measures”, may “lengthen the average waiting time significantly”, and that this waiting time and resulting congestion would amount to “billions of dollars annually”, all of which would be met by shippers and the transport industry.

Furthermore, the US makes no mention of scanning bulk cargo, ro-ro traffic and cruise ships, “which may carry weapons of mass destruction or their components”, the Commission pointed out and also added: “It would be difficult for customs administrations to set sovereignty issues aside in order to implement the US legislation, to invest massively in a measure designed to protect the US and to divert resources away from measures designed to strengthen security in the EU.”

In fact, it wouldn’t be just “difficult for customs administrations, etc., etc.”, it would be impossible. Since the Department of Homeland Security was founded shortly after 9-11, how many programs has its various divisions (like Customs, for instance) tested, approved, promulgated and funded? How many “security companies” has it backed and funded in the last six-and-a-half years?

The answer: Thousands and thousands and thousands … and with no measurable success.

[Do they really believe that this demand on foreign nations will bear fruit? Are they serious?]