Friday, October 1, 2010

HR 3619 Sent to President

The House finally got around to addressing HR 3169, the Coast Guard Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 which made it the first DHS authorization bill to passed this year. The Senate passed the bill in early May, substituting Senate language for bill that passed in the House last October. Title VIII, Port Security, contains the provisions of the bill that might be of interest to the Chemical Security Community

America’s Waterway Watch Program

The bill does establish a waterway watch program designed to encourage reporting of “activities that may indicate that a person or persons may be preparing to engage or engaging in a violation of law relating to a threat or an act of terrorism” {§ 70122(b)}. The bill authorizes $3 million for this program.

TWIC Reader Report

The bill requires DHS to submit a report to Congress when it completes their testing of TWIC “access control technologies” (TWIC Readers). It also requires GAO to review that report and report on the report to Congress. Congress continues to be concerned about the slow pace of TWIC Reader implementation.

Especially Hazardous Cargo

Section 812 establishes yet another category of hazardous material; especially hazardous cargo which is defined as: “anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate, chlorine, liquefied natural gas, liquiefied (sic) petroleum gas, and any other substance, material, or group or class of material, in a particular amount and form that the Secretary determines by regulation poses a significant risk of creating a transportation security incident while being transported in maritime commerce” {§812(d)(1)}.

Interestingly this extensive section of the bill requires the Secretary to conduct a study of risk assessments relating to these cargoes while mandating the establishment of a security program to protecting security zones around vessels containing such cargo.

Section 828 adds requirements to existing Port Security Zone rules for the Secretary to establish “(c)redentialing standards, training, and certification for State and local support for the enforcement of security zones for the transportation of especially hazardous cargo” {§70132}.

Miscellaneous TWIC Provisions

The TWIC program continues to attract Congressional attention. Section 814 allows the use of a “secondary authentication system to verify identification” when an individuals fingerprints cannot be taken or read. Section 815 requires an assessment of the adequacy of TWIC enrollment sites. Section 818 addresses the time it takes to get a TWIC issued, both allowing escorted access to individuals awaiting a TWIC to be re-issued and requiring studies about the time it takes get cards issued. And §819 allows the Secretary to extend TWIC expirations to align that expiration with “the expiration of a license, certificate of registry, or merchant mariner document”.

Security Training Program

Section 821 requires the Secretary to establish “comprehensive facility security officer training requirements designed to provide full security training that would lead to certification of such officers”. Among other things it requires that the training program “provide for continuing education and training for facility security officers beyond certification requirements, including a program to educate on the dangers and issues associated with the shipment of hazardous and especially hazardous cargo [emphasis added]” {§70125(b)(4)}. It also repeals §113 of the Safe Port Act (6 U.S.C. 911) which contained less comprehensive training requirements.

Integration of Security Plans

Section 822 required facilities and vessels will share vulnerability assessments conducted by the Coast Guard under 46 USC 70102 with port authorities and “appropriate State or local law enforcement agencies” {§70102(c)(1)} to allow for the integration of security plans for that vessel/facility with “compatible systems operated or maintained by the appropriate State, law enforcement agencies, and the Coast Guard” {§70102(c)(2)}.


Section 911 addresses the issue of semi-submersible craft by requiring the Secretary to submit a report to Congress on the Department’s “comprehensive strategy to combat the illicit flow of narcotics, weapons, bulk cash, and other contraband through the use of submersible and semi-submersible vessels”. While this is envisioned as a counter-narcotics operation, the requirement to conduct an “assessment of the threats posed by submersible and semi-submersible vessels” {§911(1)} should probably also identify the potential for smuggling terrorists and weapons near or into port side chemical facilities.

Moving Forward

Once the President signs this legislation the Secretary and the Coast Guard have a lot of work before them. There are studies to conduct, reports to present to Congress and, of course, new regulations to write. It will take some time to see a practical effect from this newly passed legislation.

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