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Study on keeping nuclear bombs from US ports shows misplaced fear over cargo scanning cost
Date:6/24/2009

e at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 28. http://mitsloan.mit.edu/omg/msom2009/

With continuing concern that Al Qaida or other terrorists will try to smuggle a nuclear weapon into the United States, Congress has mandated that, by 2012, all containers bound for the U.S. be inspected overseas. .

The paper argues that a test program, the Secure Freight Initiative (SFI), could be adapted to successfully manage the large volume of inspections at ports around the world.

Under a variant of SFI that the authors describe as an industry-centric model, a larger number of containers virtually all those originating outside the U.S. would receive a rapid screening via low-cost, drive-through radiation and medium energy x-ray radiographic portals as they enter an international port. Containers that fail will not be placed in stacks for outbound containers, but will be flagged immediately and removed for a more intensive inspection. By segregating flagged containers outside large queues rather than placing them in piles that take time to stack and restack, potential bottlenecks are more easily averted.

By contrast, the current procedure, implemented by U.S. customs authorities under the Container Security Initiative (CSI), can be cumbersome and costly.

"The CSI and SFI protocols differ in the pool of containers targeted for inspection, as well as both the timing and tools used for preliminary inspection," the paper explains.

"The CSI inspection process is geared exclusively towards US-bound containers, it begins 24 hours in advance of a container's lading onto an oceangoing vessel, and it uses information contained in the shipping manifests to decide whether or not specific containers require intensive non-intrusive inspection (NII). The SFI protocol uses drive-through portals to scan every container as it enters a port terminal, and the results of these scans in addition
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Contact: Barry List
barry.list@informs.org
443-757-3560
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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