USC Hosts Conference on Port Security

The gathering brings together experts, officials and researchers to focus on protecting Southland seaports and communities and the goods that pass through them.
By Phyllis Grifman and Carl Marziali
The USC Sea Grant Program will host a daylong conference on maritime security, Friday, March 4, at the USC Davidson Conference Center, 3415 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles.

The conference will bring together experts from the marine transportation industry, university researchers, public officials, organized labor and the ports to begin a regional conversation on making maritime cargo movement safer.

The twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles handle more containerized cargo than any seaport in the US. More than 13 million TEUs (twenty-foot-equivalent units) per year pass through the two seaports.

Because of the huge volume of cargo moved through the ports much of it containerized cargo security and the risk of terrorist use of those containers is of concern to policy makers and law enforcement.

The risks are regional and even national because cargo containers can move to any location served by road or rail. Dangerous cargo has moved overland since California was settled, but the threat of maritime terrorism is new and requires a new planning and response strategy, said conference organizers.

The gathering will explore three issues: What are the risks that we might expect from marine cargo moving from the seaports to their ultimate destinations? Can we anticipate the economic and political costs that planning for and responding to incidents could impose on the public, policymakers and the economy? And what shall we do now to lessen the impact of such a possibility, both in the ports and in surrounding communities?

Participating speakers include:

Randolph Hall, USC professor of industrial and systems engineering and co-director of the USC Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE);
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach);
Noel Cunningham, director of operations and emergency management, Port of Los Angeles;
Domenick Miretti, professor of earth sciences at East Los Angeles College, representing the International Longshore and Warehouse Union;
Capt. Peter Neffenger, U.S. Coast Guard, commanding officer, Marine Safety Office/Group, Los Angeles-Long Beach; and
Don Knabe, L.A. County supervisor, 4th district; and
Lt. Anselmo Gonzalez, emergency operations, L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept.

Panel discussions will include question and answer periods. Rep. Rohrabacher will be the luncheon speaker. His district includes the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, giving him a unique perspective on port and cargo security.

Registration is $35 per person and reservations are required. Full details of the conference can be found on the USC Sea Grant website here.