Holes riddle US air cargo security
02 / 12 / 2009
IN an undercover investigation, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has uncovered a wide variety of airfreight security oversights.At five major US airports, investigators were able to walk around secure cargo areas without being challenged. At one freight forwarder, they tripped an alarm walking into a secure area where cargo was being screened or had already been screened for transport that evening, but no employee came to investigate.“We determined that personnel were sometimes accessing, handling, or transporting air cargo without the required background checks or training,” the report said. In addition, it added: “The agency’s inspection process has not been effective in ensuring that requirements for securing air cargo during ground transportation are understood or followed. The inspection process has focused on quantity rather than outcomes and ensuring corrective actions.“As a result, air cargo is vulnerable to the introduction of explosives and other destructive items before it is loaded onto planes.”The DHS’ findings call into question not only the effectiveness of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) draconian efforts to force forwarders and airlines to screen 100 per cent of cargo by next June, but also companies’ current efforts to meet that target.Among the recommendations made are: increasing security documentation, giving inspectors more training and time to review findings, as well as technology, to give them access to on-the-spot information.