By Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-ME)
Ranking Member and Former Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Two years ago, a radioactive container packed in Saudi Arabia arrived in the bustling seaport of Genoa, Italy, according to last November’s edition of Wired. The port in Genoa is similar to some of the 361 seaports in the U.S.: it is nestled within a city of more than 600,000 people, most living within a mile of the water, and the port receives just shy of a million containers per year. For a week, the radioactive container sat unnoticed and undetected, according to the magazine.
The source of the radiation was buried in a haystack of more than 40,000 pounds of metal. An Italian inspector finally identified the radiation coming from the box during a routine screening. Had he stayed next to the container, he would have exceeded the maximum allowable radiation exposure for nuclear personnel in the U.S. for an entire year, in just two hours.
After several anxious days, the source of the radiation was identified, fortunately, as a small metal rod of Cobalt-60 which is frequently used in medical devices. It took a year to finally remove the container from the port.
Could this happen in the U.S.? We have to remain vigilant, but since the end of 2007, all inbound cargo containers at America’s busiest ports are expected to be scanned for radioactive materials as required by the SAFE Port Act, bipartisan legislation I authored with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). It is time to renew the expiring law and build upon its comprehensive approach to improve maritime cargo security.
The new Collins-Murray bill builds on the lessons of the 9/11 Commission, Government Accountability Office investigations, and the experience of the past five years in order to protect our ports, and the vital role they play this best canadian pharmacies better Flannel everyday it.