recent arrest of an Ohio truckdriver for conspiring with al Qaeda
to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge prompted U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer
to again warn that big rigs pose a major terrorist threat unless
certain actions take place – particularly around the state capital.
said Albany, like other large cities, is especially vulnerable
because its main New York Thruway exits see a tremendous amount
of truck traffic. According to the New York State Department of
Transportation, almost 10,000 trucks use exits 23, 24 and 25 each
day, meaning more than 3.5 million trucks travel through the Albany
area each year. More than 100,000 of these trucks carry loads
of toxic chemicals or explosive fuel that are ideal terrorist
weapons, he added.
said, “If terrorists wanted to do something horrible to us, chances
are they could take a truck with dangerous materials in it, drive
it to a major landmark, ignite the cargo right there, and cause
unspeakable damage …We need to invest resources and energy in
securing our trucks that we have directed towards protecting our
airways, railways and harbors. The danger is too great to do nothing."
Schumer press release said about 50,000 trips are made each day
in the United States by gasoline tankers, “many of which hold
as much fuel as a Boeing 757.” The trips often end with a late-night
delivery to a “deserted” gas station, while chemicals present
an even greater risk, particularly those like chlorine or cyanide,
which can form clouds of deadly fumes, the release said.
can spend billions securing our airports, providing small pox
vaccines to everyone and increasing guards at the northern border,
but if we do not secure our truck fleet, this country will still
be at grave risk from a terrorist attack," Schumer said.
"A terrorist with a fuel tanker driving up to a building
in New York could do unspeakable damage. We need to enact common-sense
steps to protect ourselves, our city, and our country."
said the Transportation Security Administration needed to do more
in addition to performing background checks on hazmat drivers
to bolster truck security. Among his suggestions:
- The TSA should start mandating GPS in all trucks in order
to allow authorities to find a truck quickly if intelligence
shows a risk exists. GPS systems cost only $75 to $100 per
truck and would provide a benefit that would greatly outweigh
this small cost, Schumer said.
TSA should require hazmat shippers to register trucking plans
with the agency. The plans would be similar to flight plans
that airplanes need to file. Because all trucks will have GPS
under Schumer's plan, it would be easy to ensure that shipments
followed the plans they filed. If it turned out that a truck
carrying hazmat veered off the prescribed course, authorities
could easily find the truck and ensure nothing suspicious was
happening. "If a terrorist planned an attack using a truck
carrying dangerous chemicals or fuel, authorities would quickly
be able to tell that the shipment was off course, pinpoint the
location of the truck, and stop the attack," Schumer wrote
in a letter to Adm. James Loy, head of the TSA
- Schumer also wants TSA to increase research into new technologies
that could bolster the safety of the nation's truck fleet.
Such technologies would include panic buttons in case a
truck is hijacked, and automatic engine kill switches that
could be triggered remotely if a truck were stolen or veered
off its intended delivery route. Such technology is already
in place in Brazil and has resulted in the recovery of $500
million worth of stolen freight, the senator noted. "If
Brazil can protect its trucks, I am sure the United States
can do the same. Developing new technologies will ensure
that our truck fleets are safe and one more weapon will
be taken out of the terrorists arsenal," Schumer said.