US port security: Is X-ray enough?
Boston now scans two-thirds of the containers, making the port an exemplar of antiterror tactics. Down where the city of Boston meets the Atlantic Ocean, where a salty wind swirls amid 30-foot-tall stacks of giant cargo containers, two customs inspectors are doing something few of their colleagues nationwide are able to do: They’re scanning roughly 70 percent of the containers that pass through the mid-sized port. In the cramped control room of a massive mobile X-ray machine, Larry Campbell and Joe Crowley electronically peer into steel boxes, hunting for terrorist weapons among the frozen fish, shoes, shirts, and other cargo. Every year, 16 million containers move through America’s 361 ports. Only 4 percent get scanned – leaving what may be the biggest hole in the nation’s terror shield. In a sense, Boston’s 70-percent scan rate makes it one of the most secure US ports. It also highlights a fundamental question now circling among port officials, political leaders, and the shipping industry: Would scanning more containers – even up to 100 percent – boost security? Full Story