Ports say new federal rules will require additional federal aid.

The Transportation Security Administration has awarded $179 million in grants to upgrade security at seaports around the country, but port authorities say much more federal security aid is needed. The funds will go for constructing new control facilities, as well as purchasing communications and surveillance equipment and patrol boats. TSA says that its latest grants, announced Dec. 11, will go to 235 organizations, and fund 442 projects at 326 locations.

Some large port authorities or agencies won multiple grants: for example, the City of Los Angeles Harbor Dept. was awarded four grants, totaling $9.4 million, for physical security improvements and surveillance equipment; the New York City Economic Development Agency was awarded three grants, totaling $4.1 million, for physical upgrades; and the Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission got eight grants, totaling more than $1.6 million, for "physical enhancements," communications, surveillance and a vessel.


But many grants also went to private companies, including big oil and petrochemical producers. They include $3 million to Chevron Products Co., for access controls in Richmond, Calif.; $3 million to ConocoPhillips work physical and surveillance upgrades in Roxana, Ill.; and eight grants totaling $1.3 million to Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals LP in Nederland, Texas.

But demand for the money outstrips the aid TSA had available. The American Association of Port Authorities says ports had submitted applications for 1,085 projects, which would have cost a total of $987 million.

AAPA President Kurt Nagle welcomed the TSA action, praising the agency "for providing a considerable portion of the 2004 appropriation in this round of grants...." But he added, "White the latest round of funding is significant, it covers only about 18% of the costs ports identified in the security projects set forth in their recent applications".

Nagle observes that new port security regulations from the Coast Guard, which like TSA is part of the Dept. of Homeland Security, will cost ports an estimated $5.4 billion over 10 years.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, AAPA says, federal port security appropriations have totaled $588.2 million. The association is requesting $400 million for security grants in fiscal 2005.

(Photo courtesy of Florida Dept. of Commerce and American Association of Port Authorities)