Higgins’ Bill Requiring A Threat Assessment of Hazardous Materials Crossing the Border Is Approved In Committee
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The House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security approved H.R. 3350, a bill introduced by Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) which requires a terrorism threat assessment on the transport of chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological materials across land borders and within the United States.
The legislation comes in response to a plan by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to begin the transport of highly-enriched liquid uranium from Chalk River, Ontario to the Department of Energy’s Savannah Energy River Site in Aiken, South Carolina via the Peace Bridge in 2016.
In his testimony before the Committee, Higgins said, “The Department of Energy is relying on an analysis of this route that is outdated and does not reflect the threats we face today. An attack on one of these trucks would have obvious and devastating consequences.”
Higgins pointed out that an attack, or even an accident involving one of these trucks, would have catastrophic consequences. The Peace Bridge is the busiest passenger crossing on the northern border and the second busiest cargo port of entry with our closest trading partner. Its strategic economic value makes it an inviting target. In addition, the Peace Bridge traverses the Niagara River, which feeds Niagara Falls and connects two of the Great Lakes, which contain 95% of the surface fresh water in the United States.
Higgins, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, began his push for a full review of the plan in 2014 and earlier this year won approval of an amendment requiring a risk assessment. This stand-alone legislation strengthens and expands the requirement for the threat assessment to be completed within 90 days of enactment of the act. The bill also requires that the results of the study are shared with federal, state and local partners including the National Network of Fusion Centers.