October 21, 2020

Customs boosts inspection capability


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With a new non-intrusive inspection system (NIIS) days away from going operational, the Customs Department will soon put into action its long standing goal of inspecting every container that arrives on, or leaves, Grand Cayman.

The new equipment will pave the way for a new Freight Security Initiative that Customs will introduce in early February as part of routine import and export procedures, Customs authorities said.

With a new container traffic flow design and the new scanning procedures at the Cargo Distribution Centre, it is anticipated that traders will continue to receive cleared goods in the customary timely manner they are accustomed to, they stated.

“So far, it was logistically impossible to inspect every container manually, given the numbers,” Collector of Customs, Mr. Carlon Powery, MBE, JP, said.

“I am now delighted that we can meet our goal of one hundred percent inspection with the extra boost the new equipment provides. But more importantly, we are improving our border management capacity for security, trade facilitation and social protection,” the Collector commented.

Smiths Detection was the successful bidder for providing the NIIS when the Customs Department issued a request for proposal in March 2011.

The Heimann Cargo Vision Mobile (HCVM) x-ray inspection system is currently being tested, having arrived on the island recently after having undergone factory testing in France and Germany, Assistant Collector of Customs and NIIS Project Coordinator Jeff Jackson said.

Also, four more conventional x-ray inspection systems will be arriving shortly. They will be installed at the Airport Post Office, the Customs courier service facility, the airport transit warehouse and inside the inland depot warehouse, he stated.

Simultaneously, training is underway for end users including truckers and local traders to sensitise them about radiation and associated risks as well as to address their concerns about a system that is extensively used worldwide, he said. Customs personnel are also being trained in the operations and maintenance of the systems.

The system will be a boon to end-users, the majority of whom are law-abiding, Mr. Jackson said. However, it will also enhance Customs’ border control capabilities and guard against terrorism without disrupting traffic flow, he emphasised.

“These X-ray inspection systems are specifically designed to scan mail, baggage, pallets, trucks, cars, watercraft and shipping containers,” he noted. “They will dramatically upgrade our ability to identify suspect goods including weapons, narcotics and other types of contraband. It will also enable quick, accurate and reliable verification of manifests in unopened loads, reducing the need for manual inspection.”

Additionally, the HCVM system can detect the presence of radioactive materials inside the container or vehicle which enhances terrorism detection. “This makes it an ideal tool to efficiently guard against terrorism, without disrupting traffic flow,” Mr. Jackson said.

How the HCVM Works

The computer controlled, remotely-driven mobile HCVM scanner emits radiation less than the quantity a patient gets at a dentist’s office, explained Mr. Peter Southwood, head of the installation team. A tightly controlled beam rapidly and fully scans all the contents of the inspected item, such as containers which will remain on the truck transporting them, he said.

As the scan progresses, the operator receives a high-quality radioscopic image of the vehicle inspected and its contents. It eliminates the need to open the containers since it enables complete inspection of trucks and containers, regardless of load density, Mr. Southwood elaborated.

A high concrete block wall built to border one side of the scanning bay at the CDC merely provides additional protection, as a precaution, for persons behind the wall when the system is in use, Mr. Southwood underscored.

With a stationary truck and mobile scanner, the trucker will be out of his vehicle when the scan is underway, getting back on only after the scan is complete, he stated.

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