Thursday, September 17, 2009

Transportation Security Debate 09-17-09

On Tuesday afternoon Bill Graves, President and CEO, American Trucking Associations, added his comments to the debate on about transportation security that I mentioned in an earlier blog. Since the members of the ATA handle freight not passengers, his comments may be of interest to those in the chemical security community.

One specific area that Graves mentions deserves some discussion here. He writes:

“At present, government agencies that administer various security programs in the transportation sector lack coordination, resulting in security programs with duplicative background checks and requirements that create unnecessary burden and cost. Also, multiple security plans and training requirements that govern the transportation of certain types of products and operations in specific areas threaten to erode the trucking industry’s ability to continue delivering the goods that the consumer expects.”
Multiple Security Regulations

While the TSA has done relatively little to directly regulate the security of the trucking industry, truckers have come under other security regulations including the Coast Guard’s MTSA regulations and the Infrastructure Security and Compliance Division’s CFATS regulations. You will notice that there are at least three different organizations that are regulating various portions of trucking security.

Part of the problem can be traced back to fact that two of the regulations that affect truckers are not trucking regulations. Truckers are being forced to comply with security regulations that are directed at fixed facilities. Since there are no general security regulations for all truckers, there was no way for the facility based regulations to refer back to transportation regulations to provide adequate security requirements for truckers servicing those facilities.

Vetting of Truck Drivers

One of the major problems that truckers are facing is that there are a variety of identification and background check requirements depending on the cargo they haul and where they haul it. A truck driver is required to have a Commercial Driver’s License, another document for hauling hazardous materials, another document to enter a port facility, and another document to aid in custom’s clearance going to Canada or Mexico. There may be additional requirements for entering high-risk chemical facilities. Each of these requires slightly different background investigations.

One thing that could ease the burden somewhat would be for DHS to require the use of the TWIC for truck drivers entering high-risk chemical facilities. Currently DHS is prohibited by law from doing this. Congress needs to consider adding specific language to legislation like HR 2868 that would require the use of TWIC for truck drivers servicing those facilities. This would stop duplication of efforts and help relieve some of the competing requirements on truck drivers.

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