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American Shipper

Napolitano phones express carriers about security

Napolitano phones express carriers about security

   Governments around the world continued efforts Wednesday to tighten security for air cargo following last week's discovery of explosives from Yemen onboard planes bound for the United States.

Napolatino

   U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano telephoned the heads of large air freight delivery companies, including UPS, FedEx, TNT and DHL, to discuss enhanced air cargo screening and security efforts.

   During the call, Napolitano emphasized her commitment to partner with the shipping industry to strengthen cargo security through screening and preventive measures, such as terrorism awareness training for employees.

   The secretary also spoke with Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association, about the department's efforts to work with the private sector and other governments to ensure aviation security, according to a DHS news release.

Flynn

   The exact types of new security measures DHS is considering are unclear at this point, but homeland security expert Stephen Flynn said they would inevitably increase the cost of international shipping.

   'If we put any new measures in place, it's going to add some costs. But I also believe that if we design it to work with the way the system works, with smart measures layered throughout and the industry plays a role, that the cost is an affordable one. It's not one that will cripple the industry,' he said in an interview Tuesday on National Public Radio.

   'Right now, we got a polemic. The industry is essentially saying, any security measure will fundamentally take down the industry and the service that it provides. And the government is saying, well, you need to do more about security. Well, it's somewhere in the middle. It's a complicated problem, but it's a workable problem.'

Pistole

   Meanwhile, Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole met with government officials in Yemen to discuss ways to improve aviation security and toured a cargo facility in Sana'a. He also received a briefing from TSA inspectors deployed to Yemen to assist with screening shipments. The U.S. government has also grounded all packages originating from Yemen destined to the United States.

   Earlier in the day, Pistole spoke at an IATA conference in Frankfurt, Germany, and signed a joint declaration with German officials that establishes a framework for further collaboration in aviation security.

   'We have a delicate balance to strike. The flow of global commerce is key to economic recovery. Security cannot bring business to a standstill,' Pistole said, according to a copy of his speech. Pistole said his top priorities for the agency are to improve its counterterrorism capability, strengthen collaboration with aviation stakeholders, and develop reliable detection technologies with the understanding that there can't be 'a cookie-cutter approach' for security.

   One of the key defenses is advance manifest data submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection so its automated systems can search for red flags. But air carriers are not required to provide those details until four hours before arrival in the United States, or at lift off for flights in Central and South America north of the equator.

   NBC News reports that one of the new security steps DHS plans to propose is obtain more information about cargo before it arrives in the United States.

   Since the failed attack by a man carrying a bomb in his underwear last Christmas, DHS has worked hard to get agreements from other governments to share information on their passenger and cargo security practices in an attempt to help them reach U.S. standards.

   The TSA implemented a congressional mandate on Aug. 1 to screen 100 percent of cargo on domestic and outbound passenger flights. Much of the screening is conducted by airlines or by certified shippers and third parties. The agency is working with foreign governments to encourage them to follow similar pre-departure inspection protocols, but doesn't have the jurisdiction to impose regulations on foreign freight forwarders or shippers not within its regulatory sphere. However, the TSA has continued to ramp up the amount of screening it requires of foreign air carriers flying into the United States. More than 60 percent of international origin cargo is screened, according to estimates made by TSA officials last summer.

   In other overseas developments, one of the two mail bombs sent from Yemen last week was defused just 17 minutes before it was set to explode, the French interior minister said Thursday. Brice Hortefeux provided no other details in an interview on France's state-run France-2 television, or say where he got the information about the timing, according to the Associated Press.

   The United Kingdom has suspended the shipment by air of ink toner cartridges heavier than 17.5 ounces in an effort to increase aviation security in the wake of the parcel bomb incident last week. Two of the improvised explosives devices contained an explosive chemical compound concealed in laser jet printer ink cartridges.

   The Department of Transport in the United Kingdom imposed the restriction on all cargo and passenger flights for a period of 30 days. The restriction also applies to equipment containing a toner cartridge. ' Eric Kulisch

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