Friday, May 29, 2009

Public Comments TWIC Reader ANPRM – 05-22-09

It has been a busy week and I am just now getting around to looking at last week’s comments posted on the TWIC Reader ANPRM. I considered combining them with this week’s results, but I looked today at how many new comments had been filed and there were 10 pages of new comments. Oh well, this always happens at the end of the comment period. So this posting will look at the five comments submitted last week. Those comments were received from: Marine Spill Response Corporation Joy May Cowan Association of American Port Authorities Gunther Hoock John C Farmer Marine Spill Response Corporation MSRC maintains a fleet of Oil Spill Response Vessels (OSRV) and Oil Spill Response Barges (OSRB). They are concerned that their vessel falls between the definitions for Risk Groups and have received at least one Coast Guard opinion that their fleet would fall into Risk Group B. They object to that characterization and would prefer to see the status of these vessels clearly delineated in Group C. MRSC believes that the 14 crewmember limit for recurring unescorted access is too low and suggest that the number could reasonably be as high as 25. They also object to the RUA requirement for validating TWIC on a weekly/monthly basis using a hot sheet that is less than 24 hours old. They believe that annual and random checks by TSA are adequate checks. Joy May Cowan Comments Ms Cowan is the owner/operator of a paddlewheel boat that is rated to carry 800 passengers. With six employees she believes that it makes no sense for them to have to carry a TWIC reader on-board. She notes that the Coast Guard ‘regularly’ checks their cards. Association of American Port Authorities Comments AAPA believes that the 3 Risk Groups defined in the ANPRM are an inadequate way to evaluate the risk status of port facilities. They suggest that a risk based evaluation be made on an individual basis for each port facility. AAPA appreciates the removal of the requirement for facilities to always know who is on site. They believe that Hot Lists should be available in real time and distinguish between personnel on the list for security reasons and personnel that simply need to replace their cards. AAPA would like to see the Coast Guard to publish the TWIC Reader specs as soon as the pilot programs are completed rather than waiting until the final rule is published. This will allow facilities and vessels to start evaluating and buying Readers more quickly. Gunther Hoock Comments Gunther Hook, of the Horizon Lines, recommends that the limit for recurring unescorted access should be increased from 14 to 30, noting that it would “bring relief to a larger section of covered vessels and facilities as opposed to a limit of 14 while still preserving a controllable environment”. John C Farmer Comments Capt. Farmer notes that unless there is going to be a TWIC Reader at every entrance to every restricted area there is really no point in having TWIC Readers on a vessel. He makes the point that personal recognition is the most secure form of identification. He believes that a TWIC Reader should only be required where there is an expectation of personnel requiring access that would not be recognized by facility personnel or where a very large number of people would be entering and there would be no expectation that a guard would be able to recognize everyone. Capt Farmer makes a final point that he believes that pilot testing of TWIC Readers is premature; a proper test protocol can only be designed once a clear definition of the use has been made. This ANPRM makes clear that that has not yet happened. My Comments on Comments I’m sure that MSRC is not the only owner/operator of a vessel or facility that does not fit into some neatly defined category. Provisions need to be made in the final rule for some consistent method of evaluating non-standard situations and fitting them into one of the Risk Groups. I’m not sure that I would go as far as requiring every port facility to under go a unique risk evaluation, but DHS has established that such a process is possible in the establishment of their Tier levels for high-risk chemical facilities. DHS did have the advantange that much of the analysis process work had already been done under RAMCAP. Still, the Coast Guard might wish to look into the same type evaluation scheme. The continuing discussion of RUA is appropriate; the number of people allowed under the program could depend on a lot of factors. The length of time the crew works together is probably the most important. With crews that are thrown together for a short period of time the size that allows for rapid personal identification is much smaller. Crews that work together for years could be much larger and still allow for personal identification. One thing that I have not heard discussed is how to integrate a new crew member into an RUA crew, especially a larger crew.

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