HOUSTON – Tomorrow, port workers, longshore workers, truckers and others at the Port of Houston, will begin to enroll in the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The program's goal is to ensure that any individual who has unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities and vessels has received a thorough background check and is not a security threat.
Nationwide, more than 1 million workers with unescorted access to secure areas will apply for TWIC during the rest of 2007 and 2008.
"The start of enrollment is one more step in our effort to prevent persons who are a threat from gaining access to secure areas of port facilities," said Maurine Fanguy, TWIC Program Director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). "We appreciate the support of our partners at the Port of Houston for helping to make one of the world's most advanced interoperable biometric systems a reality."
Houston is the eighth port to begin enrollment since the program began Oct. 16. By the end of the week twelve ports will be actively enrolling workers including four in the state of Texas – Houston, Corpus Christi, Beaumont and Port Arthur. Ultimately, established fixed enrollment centers will be in place at 147 ports along with mobile enrollment centers at dozens of other locations as needed.
"TWIC will be a crucial part of our multi-layered risk based approach to maritime security," said Coast Guard Capt. Marcus Woodring, the Deputy Commander, Sector Houston-Galveston. "It will strengthen security and access control to the port and on thousands of other maritime facilities and vessels."
Workers at the Port of Houston are able to pre-enroll for TWIC online at the Coast Guard's homeport site, http://homeport.uscg.mil. Pre-enrolling speeds up the process by allowing workers to provide biographic information and schedule a time to complete the application process in person. This eliminates waiting at enrollment centers and reduces the time it takes to enroll each individual.
About the Port of Houston Authority: The Port of Houston Authority owns and operates the public facilities located along the Port of Houston, the 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities designed for handling general cargo, containers, grain and other dry bulk materials, project and heavy lift cargo, and other types of cargo. Each year, more than 7,000 vessels call at the port, which ranks first in the U.S. in foreign waterborne tonnage, second in overall total tonnage, and 10th largest in the world. The Port Authority plays a vital role in ensuring navigational safety along the Houston Ship Channel, which has been instrumental in Houston's development as a center of international trade. The Barbours Cut Container Terminal and Central Maintenance Facility are the first of any U.S. port facilities to develop and implement an innovative Environmental Management System that meets the rigorous standards of ISO 14001. Additionally, the port is an approved delivery point for Coffee "C" futures contracts traded on the New York Board of Trade's Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange.