WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, joined by Rep. Steve Lynch (D-MA) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff to express serious concern about the low security risk designation that DHS assigned the Port of Boston.  Boston was placed near the bottom of the risk rankings, despite handling almost 16 billion tons of cargo each year and massive deliveries of volatile and dangerous liquid natural gas which passes through the port on its way to the Everett liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility.

Rep. Markey said, “The Port of Boston is a busy port near the only LNG facility located in a densely populated urban area, making it a very attractive terrorist target.  Let’s not forget that Boston was the launching point for two of the four planes on September 11th, and one of the terrorists planning to attack the Los Angeles airport entered our country on an LNG tanker in Everett.  It defies common sense that the Bush Administration and Secretary Chertoff would rank our port at the lowest risk level, making it more difficult for Massachusetts to receive the federal port security funds that it urgently needs to provide the required security safeguards.”

Rep. Lynch, member of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, said, “Classifying the Port of Boston as a low security risk flies in the face of common sense and runs contrary to our experience here. This is a major commercial port where over 15 million tons of cargo gets transported within miles of densely settled residential communities.  We also have LNG tankers that travel through the Port regularly and which constitute a high risk terrorist target. Republicans are playing pork barrel politics with homeland security.  There is no other way to explain why Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo in Huntsville, Alabama, was classified as "critical infrastructure" by DHS, while the Port of Boston is under-funded. We call on Secretary Chertoff to immediately correct this serious lapse in judgment.”

Below is the text of Rep. Markey’s letter to Sec. Chertoff, and a pdf version can be found here: Letter - Chertoff Re DHS lowers Port of Boston Security Risk (Markey - Lynch)10.10.06.pdf

October 10, 2006
The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

    As you know, in the latest PSGP round, DHS provided the Boston port area with $147,750 in funding, which represents less than 5 percent of the total amount of funding requested in a total of 10 Massachusetts applications.  We urge the Department to immediately reopen its evaluation of the security risks at the Port of Boston to more accurately place the port in a higher risk category that reflects the port’s unique security challenges and enables applications from the Boston port area to be eligible for additional funding available for ports in higher risk tiers.

“The risk scores for each port, and their subsequent Tier assignments, were determined through an analysis of threats, vulnerabilities and consequences.  This included an assessment by the intelligence community about the intent and capability of known terrorist groups to target specific port areas, as well as consideration of specific factors such as the distance of the port from open water, the port’s volume of activity, the potential for casualties from an attack, and the economic and strategic impacts of an attack on the port.  This analysis placed the Port of Boston in Tier 4 (the lower of the tier groupings).”

The Port of Boston is a bustling port that handles more than 1.3 million tons of general cargo, 1.5 million tons of non-fuels bulk cargo and 12.8 million tons of bulk fuel cargos annually, including gasoline and oil, which also could pose a security risk.  Shipments to the LNG facility in Everett must travel through Boston Harbor and in very close proximity to downtown Boston and densely populated communities like Everett and neighboring cities and towns.  This particular configuration is unlike any other LNG terminal in the United States and warrants the special attention of the Department.  

By the Department’s own risk formula, it appears that the port of Boston should have been assigned to a higher risk category consistent with its unique security challenges, including its proximity to the LNG terminal in Everett, the only LNG terminal located in an urban area, and the port’s past history as a port utilized by terrorists seeking to attack our country.  

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.

    Edward Markey        Stephen Lynch

October 10, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein