Screening is increasing at Bush

Houston Chronicle

Cargo and passengers will face increased screening before airplanes carrying them take off from Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Earlier this week, new Transportation Security Administration rules went into effect requiring all domestic cargo be screened before being shipped by air.

On Thursday, officials announced Bush will soon receive its first body scanner to screen passengers. The millimeter-wave detection device will be installed this month in Terminal E, said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston.

“We believe it adds an important layer of security for one of the busiest airports,” Lee said.

Nationally, 450 imaging technology machines will be installed at U.S. airports by the end of the year. So far, 148 such body scanners have been added to the nation’s airports.

The machines have raised concerns because they generate detailed body images. To ensure privacy, the machines will not save any images after passengers walk through, said TSA Administrator John Pistole. Passengers can choose not to walk through and instead go through metal detectors and undergo a “rigorous pat- down,” Pistole said.

His visit to Bush included a look at the operations of SecureGlobal Logistics, a Houston freight forwarder that was one of the first companies to participate in the TSA’s cargo screening program.

The program developed after the 9/11 Commission recommended that the government establish a system to screen half of cargo on passenger aircraft by February 2009 and all cargo by Aug. 1 of this year.

“If it’s not screened, it doesn’t fly,” Pistole said.

SecureGlobal screened all of its cargo by the February 2009 deadline.

The company spent nearly $500,000 buying and installing the screening equipment, training its workers how to use it and changing its facility to meet the program’s rules.

Because some of its competitors didn’t make those changes, some of those freight forwarders at Bush have hired SecureGlobal to screen their cargo.

“It does allow us to have a marketing advantage with our clients,” said Mike Middleton, SecureGlobal’s executive vice president.

Continental Airlines’ car-go division also recently added large X-ray units to its Houston and Newark hubs to screen shipments.

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