Congress moves to reorganize Transportation Security Administration

| Friday, March 17, 2006

A bill is currently making its way through Congress that would mean some changes that some say are long overdue at the Transportation Security Administration.

If passed, the bill would call for TSA to update its airport security procedures, including passenger screening and cooperation with local and state governments.

While most of the changes related to airport security, Rod Nofziger, director of government affairs for OOIDA, said two of the amendments would directly affect trucking.

An amendment offered by Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-CA, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Economic, Security, Infrastructure Protection and Cybersecurity, calls for action on the Transportation Worker Identification Card program, known to many truckers as the TWIC program.

The amendment, which was approved by the committee on Thursday, March 16, would require TSA to begin issuing the TWIC program cards to transportation workers – including truckers – at ports, airports, rail terminals and other potential terrorist targets by June 1, 2007.

Nofziger told “Land Line Now” that this isn’t the first time someone has tried to jump-start the TWIC program, which has been kicking around Washington for several years.

“There have been congressional mandates for (TWIC) previously,” he said. “But those have all faltered or have not been followed through with.”

Another amendment still under consideration by the committee deals with the transportation of extremely hazardous materials.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Ed Markey, D-MA, calls for physical security measures to offer additional protection for such loads, including passive secondary containment of tanker valves.

The amendment also calls for the notification of concerned federal, state and local law enforcement authorities before an extremely hazardous material shipment is transported “within, through or near an area of concern.”

In addition, the amendment would require the creation of terrorism response plans for these shipments, updated communications systems between transporters and authorities, and increased training for anyone who transports, loads, unloads or is otherwise involved in the shipment of extremely hazardous materials.

Nofziger said the fact that this amendment singles out “extremely hazardous materials” rather than all hazardous materials could be a step toward changing the background check requirements for hazmat haulers.

“There is draft language that is being floated around Capitol Hill that would essentially do away with the background check process as it currently stands and to focus those background checks on individuals who are hauling more highly specialized or security risk loads as opposed to just anyone who is hauling hazmat,” he said.

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