San Francisco International airport receives
$15 million from Homeland Security
to fund air cargo screening program
X-ray machines are used to scan passenger luggage at San Francisco
International airport. Air cargo, however, is presently not adequately
tested for explosives.
A new pilot program, funded by Homeland Security dollars, will
help reduce the risk
of undetected explosive laden cargo boarding passenger aircraft.
By Elizabeth Pfeffer
June 20, 2006
San Francisco International Airport will be the first of three
sites to launch a pilot program in an effort to improve air cargo
screening for explosives, officials announced Monday.
The long-term goal of the program is to create a model for effective
screening of cargo that can be replicated at over 440 airports
nationwide, TSA Federal Security Director Earl Morris said.
Federal Transportation Security Administration Security Director
Approximately half of the $30 million in U.S. Department of Homeland
Security grants will be used to fund the Air Cargo Explosives
Detection Pilot Program at SFO. SFO officials, homeland security,
and the Transportation Security Administration were present to
sign a Memorandum of Understanding.
SFO Airport Director John L. Martin, Office of Systems Engineering
and Development Director, John Kubricky, and TSA Security Director
complete the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.
"The reality is, we're taking off our shoes and we're pulling
out our tweezers and other items. That's great and that's important
and appropriate, but what lies underneath we haven't been necessarily
checking to the degree we should," Mayor Gavin Newsom said.
Mayor Gavin Newsom
In addition to using existing modes of security such as X-rays
and K-9 units, SFO will be working with Lawrence Livermore Laboratory
and other national labs to identify the technological requirements
of cargo screening.
One of the newest cargo devices employs explosive trace detection
using a Teflon-coated fiberglass wand to find traces of explosives
down to the billionth, sometimes trillionth, of a particle. The
procedure takes less than 10 seconds and officials are confident
it will increase productivity over existing methods of inspection
Jaime Irick, Sales Director for General Electric Security
demonstrates the efficacy of spectroscopy
Last year 530,000 metric tons of cargo passed through SFO.
SFO will be getting underway with the detection pilot program
this summer. Two other unnamed airports will also participate.