Security grants look very tempting
May 1, 2004 12:00 PM, Editorial By Charles E Wilson
SECURITY requirements continue to stiffen for the companies involved in the transportation, distribution, and storage of liquid and dry bulk cargoes. Imposed by federal and state governments and industry, the requirements have become yet another cost of doing business.
Some of the most recent security demands on tank truck fleets came in late 2003. Under HM-232, carriers handling hazardous materials were required to have formal security plans in place by September 2003, and all employees were to be trained in those plans by December 2003. The plans are supposed to cover both facilities (fleet terminals and transloading sites) and transport operations. Department of Transportation (DOT) inspectors are taking a close look at the plans and training records when they visit fleets.
DOT officials continue to examine a wide array of security technologies that could be mandated for fleets. Systems being examined through various federally funded studies include satellite tracking, electric security seals, and remote vehicle shutdown devices.
Over on the storage terminal side, interim rules to implement requirements of the Maritime Transportation Security Act were published in July 2003. Among the interim regulations was the Facility Security rule, which required all bulk liquid terminals subject to Coast Guard jurisdiction to conduct a facility security assessment and submit a facility security plan. This rule may cover transloading sites and even wash racks along navigable rivers and in ports.
One of the biggest challenges: How to pay for all of this security? Without question, industry will have to cough up most of the money. However, some federal security grants are available specifically for such facilities as storage terminals, truck terminals, and transloading locations.
Available since 2002, the Port Security Grant Program has handed out in excess of $300 million. Many storage terminals that have applied have received upwards of $1 million, with the largest sums going to facilities in areas that are considered at-risk. Three rounds of grants have been awarded, and a fourth round should be underway now or very soon.
The program funds security planning and projects to improve facility security. Fencing, closed-circuit television cameras, and controlled access systems are among the things covered. The Transportation Security Administration, Coast Guard, and DOT's Maritime Administration evaluate the grant applications and select recipients.
This is a federal program, and it's important to keep in mind that the government rarely gives away any money that doesn't have strings attached. In accepting the grants, companies reportedly must provide greater access to Coast Guard inspectors and allow more Coast Guard oversight.
Further, there are growing concerns that the Coast Guard may require grant recipients to implement security measures well in excess of what is covered by the grant. This could include round-the-clock security patrols or other programs.
All we can say is take a close look at the fine print before grabbing the money.
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