New fed security measure added to all ports

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Editor and Publisher

GARYVILLE – Industry and business leaders were briefed Tuesday morning here at the Marathon Recreation Building, about the new federal requirement for gaining access to ports across the United States.

Having specific importance here in the River Region due to the Port of South Louisiana, the meeting detailed the new Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) that will be required of any workers who frequent the port facility.

A measure of Homeland Security, the new cards will tighten security to keep out anyone who may pose a threat to any of the ports across the country.

“This will really tighten security for our port, and includes a very rigid screening process that requires two different forms of identification, as well as fingerprinting that goes to the FBI,” said Port of South Louisiana Public Information Officer Ardyn Thriffley.

However the many questions at Tuesday’s meeting concerned the length of time it will take to get the new ID cards, since the FBI clearance means it is supposed to be taking “between six and eight weeks” to get the cards, according to Alan Bloodgood of Lockheed Martin, who is the local director for the TWIC program.

To help in the River Region, a local office for the TWIC program has been opened in the LaPlace Shopping Center at 1933 Airline Highway, since it has been estimated there may be as many as 20,000 ID cards needed for business and industry in this region.

To obtain a TWIC card, a worker must provide biographic and biometric information such as fingerprints, sit for a digital photograph and successfully pass a security threat assessment conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Pre-enrollment can be accomplished online, but one businessman in the audience on Tuesday said he tried that for his workers and did not have much luck.

“When our guys went down, after pre-enrolling, they were turned away from the line there,” he said.

“We will fix that right away,” Bloodgood said, “since pre-enrollment definitely means you should be able to walk right in and be at the front of the line.”

The new ID cards will also be a financial burden on businesses since cost is $105.25 per person, with some businesses having 100 or more people needing them.

Thriffley said that the former admittance system for truckers or other workers needing access to the port will continue until all new ID cards are obtained.