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Ports mulls tightening maritime cargo inspections

Credit: Carlos Anguita
The Puerto Rico Ports Authority announced this week plans to establish a new container inspection systems regulation, which is already generating talk among stateside maritime shippers.

In a public notice published Tuesday, the agency announced that it will hold a public hearing on Jan. 21 to receive “testimonies and comments” concerning the new regulation that could go into effect in early 2011.

According to the agency document, the goal is “to establish and govern the procedures under which the Puerto Rico Ports Authority shall implement certain new security measures at its maritime port facilities under which inbound cargo containers will be scanned with the primary objective of protecting such facilities from security threats.”

The agency also seeks to crack down on contraband items and products introduced to the island that may be illegal in nature or hidden to avoid paying excise taxes — a historical problem Puerto Rico has had at its ports.

Coupled with the new regulations, Ports is looking to implement a new inspection system “using non-intrusive scanning technology with the capacity of scanning up to 100 percent” of the inbound containers arriving to San Juan. The scanning would be focused on containers not previously inspected by U.S. Customs, the document noted.

The agency will establish special inspection lanes through which cargo containers must pass. The service will have a cost that shipping companies must pre-pay of $70 for containers measuring 40 feet or more and $58 for containers 40 feet or smaller.

“Based on the regulation, 100 percent of all inbound cargo will be scanned and charges will be applied for every inbound container. It’s possible that this new regulation will delay cargo availability and it will add an inspection fee to your container shipments,” Sea Star Line said in a brief statement posted on its Web site.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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