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(Tacoma, WA) - Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray met with maritime industry leaders and officials at the Port of Tacoma to get an update on port security efforts.

This summer, Murray secured $27.5 million to find the best ways to secure and monitor the cargo container supply chains that serve the ports of Tacoma and Seattle.

Standing with the Port's executive Director, Andrea Riniker, and representatives of two shipping lines (Maersk and "K" Line), Murray discussed the importance of making our ports more secure.

Senator Murray's remarks at a press conference follow:

"Thank you Andrea [Andrea Riniker - Executive Director, Port of Tacoma]. I’ve come to the Port of Tacoma today to get an update on the port security efforts underway here. I’m proud that the Port, industry leaders, and the federal government are working together to track and monitor cargo at every step in the global supply chain.

This summer, I fought long and hard to get the White House to finally release the millions of dollars I secured to help America’s busiest cargo ports improve their security. As a result, the ports of Tacoma and Seattle got $27.5 million.

Today, I’m here to touch base with port and industry leaders to make sure we’re doing all we can to improve security not just here at the port – but throughout the entire cargo process.

The Port of Tacoma is a real economic engine for our region. It supports more than 28,000 jobs in Pierce County and more than 100,000 jobs throughout our state.

Good jobs are always important, but they’re especially important today, when our state has the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation.

I’m proud of the work that everyone here at the Port has done over the years to make cargo operations as efficient as possible. That efficiency makes us more competitive around the world and means more jobs and economic growth here at home. As we make our ports more efficient, we also need to make them more secure and that’s what Operation Safe Commerce is all about.

Last year, I created this new federal effort to bring together shippers, carriers, ports, and government officials to find the best ways to monitor and track cargo containers. Each year, millions of cargo containers enter America’s ports. Too often, we don’t know what’s inside those containers or where they’ve been. So I designed and funded Operation Safe Commerce to help us answer those questions.

I want to point out that we did not tell the ports how to do it. We did not 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.” That’s the process that’s underway here at the Port of Tacoma.

Just behind me, international container ships are being unloaded. They’re from the Maersk and “K” Line – both of which are partners in Operation Safe Commerce. Those containers were loaded in Asia. They crossed the ocean to California and have moved up here to the Port of Tacoma. From here, many of those containers will move on rail line across the country.

Throughout that long process – from when the container are first loaded overseas to when they reach their final destination in the States – we want to know as much about those containers as possible.

We want to know: what’s in those containers, where they’ve been, where they’re headed, and whether or not they’ve been tampered with.

Operation Safe Commerce will help our ports and stakeholders answer those questions together to improve our efficiency, our economy, and our security.

The Port of Tacoma is an economic engine for our region, and in the United States Senate I’m working to keep this engine running strong and smooth, and I’m proud to stand with these leaders today as partners in this critical effort."