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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today joined officials from the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle to announce preliminary results from the Seattle/Tacoma portion of the Operation Safe Commerce pilot program currently ongoing at the three largest ports in the United States.

A full and final report, including results from all three participating ports, is expected in 6 weeks.

Among today's findings are the following challenges faced by our ports, and how OSC provides solutions:

Challenge: In many cases, the origination point lacked access control and general security.

OSC Solution: Therefore, cameras, biometric identification technology and third party inspection is necessary to ensure the product's integrity before it is loaded into a container.

Challenge: In other cases, the integrity of container seals wasn't verified at each point in the supply chain. Finding out that the seal has been compromised when it arrives here is too late.

Solution: So, several different technologies must be used to ensure that officials know if a seal has been broken, or a container has been opened.

Challenge: The identity of the drivers used to transfer the containers between supply chain points isn't always easily verified.

OSC Solution: Therefore, the final Operation Safe Commerce report will recommend using technology to authenticate and verify drivers when they pick-up the cargo and monitor the cargo's movement between destinations.


These early findings prove that Operation Safe Commerce is a model for how our nation can improve port security.

Senator Murray's remarks follow:

I'm thrilled to be here today. This is a great day for our ports and shippers – and a great day for our economy. It wouldn’t have been possible without all of the time, effort and determination of

the partners here today. I want to thank all of you here today for your commitment to making our cargo system –and our country – more secure. Operation Safe Commerce is an excellent example of industry coming together to share experiences and best practices and I couldn’t be more proud that my home ports of Seattle and Tacoma are leading the way. In my time in the United States Senate, I've worked closely with the people who run our ports, and I've talked with the shippers whose goods come through them.

What I've learned – and what the partners here today will tell you – is that safety, security and efficiency are of the highest importance to shippers. In our work on Operation Safe Commerce we've made it job one to meet these criteria.

And because of our work together, Seattle and Tacoma will lead the nation in providing shippers with the safety, security, and efficiency they need to stay competitive in the global marketplace. Thanks to Operation Safe Commerce, our ports are going to be even more attractive to shippers worldwide. This will lead to the strengthening of local economies and to the creation of good, family-wage jobs, here in the Puget Sound.

So Operation Safe Commerce will benefit our state – and our nation – in so many important ways. Today, I'd like to give you a bit of background about how this innovative program came into being.

Five months ago we launched a new era of port security right here in Tacoma, one that uses smart technology and the best supply-chain systems to protect our ports from those who would do us harm. Since that time, the 9/11 Commission Report reported that,

“While commercial aviation remains a possible target, terrorists may turn their attention to other modes. Opportunities to do harm are as great, or greater, in maritime or surface transportation.”


The 9/11 Commission noted that initiatives like Operation Safe Commerce had just begun to secure shipping containers but an integrated strategic plan had not been developed. Today, with a focus on the future of cargo and port security, we’re here to answer the 9/11 Commission’s call – we’re here to celebrate the success of Operation Safe Commerce, which provides the foundation for the plan called for by their report.

Now, as everyone here knows, it’s hard to understate the economic value of our container system, and there are tremendous challenges facing everyone involved in the global supply chain.

We can’t search every container that comes into our country. With about $750 billion in cargo arriving in more than 6 million containers a year, the haystack is just too big.

So instead we’ve used technology and intelligence to make the haystack smaller and show us which containers pose a security risk. Operation Safe Commerce has allowed us to identify the vulnerabilities at each step in the supply chain, and determine, document and test the best systems to bring cargo containers into our ports every day, using different security methods in different environments.

Over the past months it has allowed our nation’s three largest ports to monitor and track cargo. And, the lessons we have learned will be applied throughout our entire port system. Simply put, Operation Safe Commerce -- and all of you -- have provided us a better way to protect our ports, our communities, and our economy.

But as all of the partners here today know, this day – this celebration – didn’t arrive easily. While the program has only been running in earnest for the past five months, all of you have been working for well over a year to test – and learn new ways to track cargo from the point of origin overseas, to the point of distribution here in the U.S.

Together, we endured tremendous obstacles to ensure the safety of cargo containers that enter our ports every day. After the attacks on September 11th, Congress began exploring areas that are vulnerable to terrorist threats. And, for obvious reasons, port security was high on my list.

I knew that a terrorist attack launched on - or through - our ports could shut down commerce for days or weeks and could have immense costs. And, I learned that we don’t always know enough about what’s in the containers that enter our ports, where they’ve come from, or where they’re going.

Some of the things that we do know, however, are disturbing. We know that some of the containers that pass through our ports each year originate in countries that have known terrorist activity. And, we know that more than 90 percent of the containers that enter our ports are never inspected. It was clear we needed a system to help track and monitor container cargo from the point of origin to the ultimate destination.

But it’s not possible to physically inspect every container. And, simply placing a seal or a lock on each container was no guarantee that we knew what was inside when it arrived – we had to work smarter, not just harder. We needed a coordinated approach between federal agencies, the ports, shippers, operators, and shipping companies.

That’s why I’ve used my positions on the Homeland Security and Transportation Appropriations Subcommittees to review our government’s security efforts and hold hearings on port and cargo security. And, that’s why I wrote and funded Operation Safe Commerce. More than two years ago, I secured $28 million to test supply-chain cargo security at the nation's three largest container ports – including the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma. I knew it was going to take new thinking, new technology, and new partnerships. And, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

But, almost immediately, these partners began working on agreements and reviewing technologies. And I want to point out that we didn’t tell the ports how to do it. We didn’t pick a specific technology or system in Washington, D.C. Instead, we said, “work together, come up with your best ideas, and we’ll provide funding so you can test them out.”

So, this is a program that comes directly out of the experience of our partners – from the bottom up. Well, I was able to follow that initial funding with an additional $30 million. This money helped ensure that we had a robust test of 19 different supply chains, employing many different methods and technologies chosen by our partners.

Unfortunately, as we worked to create a new standard in supply chain security, the Administration was scheming to use the $58 million to fill holes in their budget plan.

After some tense meetings and phone calls with the highest levels of the Administration, I was able to convince them to release the funding, so we could get started. Finally, when I stood with many of you last March, Operation Safe Commerce was fully underway, with the first container arriving here in Tacoma. As I said, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy – but I think we all agree that it was worth it. That’s why I’m so proud to be here – celebrating the early results of Operation Safe Commerce.

Together, we've developed a system that will be central to a new national port security regime that is both secure and efficient. It bolsters our security, and it improves the supply chain that American families and businesses rely on. And, ultimately, Operation Safe Commerce will create an international standard for trade.

That original shipment and the tests that followed tracked shipments from their origination point, whether that was the factory floor or an agriculture field, to a distribution center right here in Washington state. The products traveled by truck, train and ship along their journey and we watched them every step of the way. The security was monitored and analyzed at the origination point, every subsequent transfer point, and on each mode of transportation until it reached the customer

And, when vulnerabilities were found in the supply chain, solutions were developed to ensure the integrity of the shipments. In many cases it was discovered that the origination point lacked access control and general security. So, now we know that cameras, biometric identification technology, and third-party inspection are necessary to ensure the product’s integrity before it is loaded into a container.

In other cases it was found that the integrity of container seals wasn’t verified at each point in the supply chain. If the seal has been compromised when it arrives here, it is too late. So several technologies were recommended to ensure that we know if a seal has been broken, or a container has been opened.

And, it was learned that the identity used by drivers to transfer the containers between supply chain points wasn’t always easily verified. So, the final Operation Safe Commerce report will make recommendations to address this as well.

These early findings prove that Operation Safe Commerce is a model for how our nation can improve port security by identifying dangers before they leave foreign shores, and helping to ensure that cargo is safe when it arrives. And I’m proud that my home ports and so many Washington state-based partners are on the cutting edge of an effort that will create a new standard to secure cargo bound for U.S. ports.

But, while your hard work has answered the call of the 9/11 Commission, there's still much more we need to do. The partners here from Seattle and Tacoma, along with the partners in Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York and New Jersey, will soon submit their full findings to Congress and the Department of Homeland Security.

As the 911 Commission, experts in the field, and a few of us in Congress have called for, in the coming months, we must work together to develop a cargo security system as a national – and, ultimately, international – standard. I will use my positions on the bipartisan Senate 911 Commission Working Group and the Homeland Security Committee to make our nation more secure by improving cargo and port security.

And, because I inserted language into the Senate Homeland Security bill, your report will now drive our efforts to create a true, standardized port security regime for all cargo entering our ports.

Once again, I’ll tell you it’s not going to be easy, but the security of our ports, shippers, communities and economy depend on it. I promise you – it will be worth it!

Before I close, I'd like to thank the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle, especially Mike Zachary and Jim Serrill for their hard work; Mic Dinsmore; Andre Rinicker; Tim Ferrill; and all of our partners, partners like Starbucks, who are here today. They're helping us show that security can actually enhance their business.

I’m looking forward to working with you in the months and years to come to stop terrorist activity before it reaches our shores; to make our businesses more successful and productive; and to make our nation's ports safer, more secure, and more efficient.