Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rupert container inspection facility a showcase for the nation

It’s brand new, state of the art and making a name for itself after only a few months of operation.

The new Quickload container facility on Ridley Island was recently provided with its official certification and has been in operation since November.

The new facility provides double the amount of area to work with and some of the latest in technology to make the Border Service Agency’s job that much easier and seamless.

The highlights of the new digs were outlined in the front page headline story of Monday’s Daily News.

New facility is up and running after months of construction work comes to an end
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, January 12, 2009
Pages one and three

Prince Rupert is a place with bragging rights in many categories, and now added to the list is Canada's newest and most advanced Container Examination Facility.

Although container traffic has been flowing smoothly through the Fairview Container Terminal for more than a year, it was only in late November that the Canada Border Service Agency moved from their temporary examination headquarters on Watson Island to Quickload's new permanent warehouse on Ridley Island.

The nearly 40,000 square-foot building provides more than double the space that the pulp mill site offered, not to mention proper off-loading bays and insulation for winter occupancy.

"It really was makeshift, and though it was a struggle, we were able to make it work for the year that we were in it," said Trevor Baird, CBSA Chief of Operations for the Port of Prince Rupert.

"1 don't think that anyone would disagree with me saying that this is the premier Container Examination Facility in the country right now. I'm sure that any other CEFs that get built will use this as a model and do something even better, but as it stands today it is certainly the nicest."

While nothing has changed as far as the process for screening, de-stuffing and examining the containers arriving in Prince Rupert, local CBSA officers are piloting new x-ray machines that allow for much higher resolution imaging than the older models, and which are much easier to move throughout the warehouse.

"Not to take away from the other ones which are good, but these are just the next generation," said Baird.

"I think the only other city to have them is Montreal, and they got theirs around the same time we did. But it all sort-of came together with this gateway project to have the machines out here."
Baird believes the new facility has enough space to handle more than the 500,000 TEU capacity of Phase 1 of the terminal, but said it was not intended to handle the 1.5 million TEU capacity of Phase 2.

The facility was built on land with plans for future expansion, but any addition will probably only be needed when the total number of containers surpasses one million.

Running an inspection facility like Quickload's is a precise practice. For the CBSA, the work begins before the COSCO containers are even loaded onto ships in Asia, as the agency receives cargo lists seven days before they set sail. Risk assessment is conducted on a significant amount of information importers provide for each container, and based upon which containers represent the highest risk of non-compliance with shipping standards and laws, a percentage of containers from each ship are selected. Once trucked to the Ridley Island facility, Quickload employees unload the entire contents of the containers while CBSA officers screen items through x-ray machines. Once unloaded, there are any number of tests that can be applied to the contents and the containers, including screening for contraband like narcotics and invasive insect species. To date, approximately 14 different insect samples such as wood beetles have been gathered from containers screened by the CBSA, including one yesterday, and the containers found to have bugs are fumigated and sent back to China at the expense of the importers.

"As an importer demonstrates over time a history of compliance, then they get selected less and less for examination, in a very general sense, said Baird.”Another aspect is trade compliance, and making sure the commodities that are brought in are compliant with Canadian laws. A recent example would be a shipment of electric cars that ultimately ended up being sent back to China because, for a lot of reasons, they did not conform to Canadian law and they weren't imported properly. In this case they were returned but in other cases they can be seized.

The CBSA is also concerned with targeting counterfeit goods and commodity misdescription for tax evasion purposes, as well the precursor chemical ingredients used in the manufacturing of drugs like methamphetamine. Baird said, while there has been seizures of counterfeit goods in the past year, there has yet to be a significant drug seizure in the container mode of CBSA Operations in Prince Rupert.

Quickload and CBSA plan to host a grand opening of the new facility next month – the date will be confirmed in the near future.

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