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13/01/2005 | Huntington Tri-State, nation's largest river port, gets beefed up security regime

Martin Edwin Andersen

The U.S. Coast Guard will fortify security measures at the Port of Huntington Tri-State, the largest inland river port in the United States, in what the maritime service's senior official said was a "prototype" for creating a more robust homeland security posture at other freshwater ports.

 

The measure was announced Tuesday by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., who had strongly urged the Bush Administration to chose the West Virginia port for the initial stage of a new effort to help increase security along the nation's river and waterways.

"River ports serve as a hub of commerce," Byrd said in a press statement. "Chemicals, coal, steel--virtually every product that we have in America is sent or serviced through an inland river port.

"We cannot turn a bliind eye to the security of these ports," he said. "They are too vital and too vulnerable."

"The Portof Huntington Tri-State is the largest inland river port in the United States and the sixth largest of all U.S. seaports in terms of tonnage," Byrd added. "Fifty percent of all the cargo entering the port is hazardous, and there are hundreds of critical infrastructure facilities, including potentially vulnerable chemical plants, along the 199 miles of navigable waterways serviced by the port." 

As part of that new initiative, the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office at the Port of Huntington Tri-State will recieve additional resources, including three high-speed response boats and several more staff as a way to fortify waterborne security along the Ohio and Kanasha rivers and their tributaries.

The new craft and personnel will begin arriving in February and the effort will be fully operational later this year, Byrd said.

The Portof Huntington initiative came following consulations between Byrd, the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thomas Collins.

Collins was quoted in the Byrd press statement as saying: "Major coastal ports have recieved considerable attention to date, which is why we are using Huntington as a prototype to develop a more robust homeland security posture that we can deploy throughout the inland river system in the United States."

Martin Edwin Andersen can be reached via Mick_Andersen@portsecuritynews.com

Copyright © 2005 Port Security News

Port Security News is a trademark of USCongress.org.

Port Security News (Estados Unidos)

 


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