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U.S. Delay in Cargo Scanning 'Hardly Surprising' Given Size of Task, British Freight Association Head Says

According to Peter Quantrill, director general of the British International Freight Association, it was "hardly surprising" to hear the recent news that the U.S. has delayed new rules requiring all cargo containers entering the U.S. to be security scanned prior to departure from overseas for two more years, amid questions over whether this is the best way to protect U.S. ports.

Quantrill commented: “As BIFA has said repeatedly, the Department of Homeland Security has consistently underestimated the enormity of the task in hand relative to the costs both to the U.S. government and foreign governments, as well as, importantly, the limited ability of contemporary screening technology to penetrate dense cargo, or large quantities of cargo in shipping containers.”

BIFA’s comments are in response to the recent news of a letter from Thomas Carper, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which suggested that the use of systems available to scan containers would have a negative impact on trade capacity and the flow of cargo.

Quantrill added: “Media reports suggest that the U.S. government now doubts whether it would be able to implement the mandate of 100 percent scanning, even in the long term, and it would appear that it now shares BIFA’s long-standing opinion that it is not the best use of taxpayer resources to meet the U.S.’s port security and homeland security needs.

"We have always said that expanding screening with available technology would slow the flow of commerce and drive up costs to consumers without bringing significant security benefits.”

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