No Homeland Security Grants
by Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. - Two Columbia River ports got nothing this week when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security distributed more than $168 million for security programs designed to prevent terrorist attacks.
The Port of Portland sought more than $100,000 for improvements. The Port of Vancouver, meanwhile, requested almost $2.3 million to add secure wireless capabilities to the current surveillance system, install additional surveillance equipment and improve physical security in Port-owned lands, including lighting and cameras.
"Security continues to be a top priority here at the port," said Maureen Chan-Hefflin, spokeswoman for the Port of Vancouver.
"We're disappointed that we didn't get any of the grant money, but we'll still continue pursuing future grants. We think whatever we can do to improve security is important not only to us but to the region."
This was the sixth round of Department of Homeland Security funding. The Port of Portland has previously received almost $6 million, including $2.7 million awarded in 2005 for access control surveillance at terminals 4 and 6. Engineering design is now under way for the surveillance program.
The Port of Vancouver has received more than $600,000 in port security grants in the past.
This year's money was awarded based on the relative risk of a terrorist attack at each port, the department said.
Marine activities on the Columbia River system employ about 40,000 people and move $15 billion in goods each year, according to the Port of Portland. "The Columbia River system is where the agricultural products of Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington leave the United States," said Dan Pippenger, marine security manager with the Port of Portland. "I'd never compare it as equally important to the large container ports like L.A./ Long Beach. But (the river) is in some ways more vulnerable to closure than an ocean port."
The twin-port complex of Los Angeles and Long Beach will get about $12 million in 2006. The Port of Seattle won about $7.4 million and the Port of Tacoma received $2.5 million from the government's port security grant program for fiscal 2006.
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