House of Representatives Approves Congressman Higgins’ Bill Requiring A Threat Assessment of Hazardous Materials Transported in the U.S.
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The House of Representatives approved a bill introduced by Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) requiring a threat assessment on the transportation of chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological materials through U.S. land borders and within the United States.
“Terrorists and militant groups have expressed an interest in using highly dangerous weapons, especially those utilizing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, known as CBRN agents or materials,” said Higgins. “This bill gives federal agencies the information they need to make decisions and develop policies that are informed by the terrorism threat picture.”
The Know the CBRN Terrorism Threats to Transportation Act (H.R.3350) directs the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis to conduct a terrorism threat assessment in consultation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration within 90 days of enactment of the bill and requires that the findings are shared with federal, state and local partners.
Higgins’s bill 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 DOE’s Savannah Energy River site in Aiken, South Carolina via the Peace Bridge in 2016. Congressman Higgins’ Western New York district borders Lake Erie and Canada and includes two northern border rail crossings and three automobile crossings, including the Peace Bridge, the busiest passenger crossing on the northern border and the second busiest cargo point of entry. In addition, the route crosses the Niagara River, which feeds Niagara Falls and connects two of the Great Lakes, which in its entirety contains 95% of the surface fresh water in the United States. Higgins argues that an attack, or even an accident involving one of these trucks, would have catastrophic consequences.
Higgins, a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, began the push for a threat assessment in 2014 with a letter to the Department of Energy and won approval for an amendment to HR 2200 the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2015 earlier this year.