Sandy Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), recently urged Senators to support strong port security legislation that builds on the current multi-layered, risk assessment approach that has effectively protected the nation’s seaports over the last several years. She also urged Congress to oppose any legislation that would require all U.S.-bound cargo containers to be scanned” for radiation and density, so called "100% scanning" legislation.
In the letter she states that the organization’s members believe that 100% scanning proposals will do more harm than good. Such proposals may appear to improve security, but they would in fact impose immense costs on the U.S. economy and foreign relations without improving the security of international trading systems.
First, the letter states, the 100% scanning mandate is unrealistic since the technology does not yet exist to do it efficiently and with a high degree of accuracy. Such a mandate could also decrease security by forcing containers to sit for extended periods of time, putting them at greater risk of tampering. In addition, forcing all containers to be scanned–including the vast majority of those that pose no risk–would divert scarce security resources away from the successful risk assessment approach currently utilized by the government. This approach uses sophisticated risk-analysis tools to determine which containers pose a risk and ensures those containers are handled appropriately.
Rather than mandating 100% scanning, RILA recommends that port security legislation should authorize additional testing and evaluation of scanning technology, including pilot projects and other evaluations to test the effectiveness and operational capability of the technology.