(Washington, DC) - U.S. Rep. Brian Baird and Sen. Patty Murray last night announced a $987,400 authorization for activities undertaken by the Maritime Fire and Safety Association (MFSA).
The Maritime Transportation Antiterrorism Act Conference Report, which passed the House of Representatives last night by voice vote, authorizes funds for fire and safety activities along the Lower Columbia River including fire, oil, and toxic spill response communications, training, equipment, and related programs.
"The MFSA has been a national leader in providing a timely and well-coordinated response to shipboard fires, oil spills, and other maritime safety hazards," said Baird. "This authorization of funds will help ensure that the Maritime Fire and Safety Association continues to protect the public safety, preserve the environment, and promote efficient commerce, as well as aid the Coast Guard with its critical homeland security functions along the Columbia River."
"Ever since I've been in the Senate, I have worked to support the Maritime Fire and Safety Association, and earlier this year, I secured over $300,000 in earmarked funds for the program," said Murray. "The MSFA provides a critical first-response and homeland security capability to protect our communities along the Columbia River. This further authorization will make it easier to continue funding this life-saving initiative in the future."
The Maritime Fire and Safety Association was established in 1983 to promote fire protection, safety, and the enhancement of navigation on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers in order to facilitate development of the maritime assets of the region. MFSA and its partners work with the U.S. Coast Guard to boost emergency response preparedness efforts along the Lower Columbia River.
The Maritime Transportation Antiterrorism Act Conference Report also authorizes $15 million in grants each year through 2008 to increase port security, creates a national standard for high-tech identification cards for port employees, and strengthens the U.S. Coast Guard's authority to investigate foreign vessels. The legislation passed the Senate on November 13. It will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.