Advanced Research Workshop – CBRN Risks in Maritime and Land Containers Transport
Rome – 25-27 May 2016


Containers could be compared to barcode as a material tool of globalization’s process. Answering to standardization’s requirements that every industrial and commercial economy met, containers became the basic unity of delivering in any international goods markets. The movement of containers has revolutionized the world of logistics and has reduced the cost of transport for every kind of goods. Over 11 million containers arrive in USA alone, every year. But the movement of containers in the seaports entails the risks of illicit trafficking as well as CBRN threats and malicious acts. The sealed nature of the containers means that there is a growing appreciation for the risk of prohibited or dangerous material being shipped around the world as contraband items. To address this problem, the CSI (Container Security Initiative) was created in the USA under the guidance of the US Customs and Border Protection Agency in 2001. Their aim was to identify potential risks of shipping and where possible, mitigate the risks. Initially, teams were deployed to container ‘hubs’ around the world, to capture information and intelligence. This has developed into a system that ensures over 80% of all containers arriving in the USA to be pre-screened.

On international level, as OECD report stated (http://www.oecd.org/sti/transport/maritimetransport/31839546.pdf),the mandatory framework of SOLAS and the ISPS code already govern security measures for international ocean-going vessels and ports involved in international trade. But we are still far from a full implementation of such measures. The CSI has developed a range of policies such as the “Containerized Cargo Sealing Policy” aimed at providing guidelines for global action for container handling. Whilst this policy is currently enforceable for US-bound containers only, there is a belief that the policies will be eventually adopted globally. To encourage greater national participation, the US has set up the Customs-Trade Partnership against Terrorism (C-TPAT) to act, through Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs), as a cooperative around the world to police the movement of containers for contraband and terrorist activities.

The supply chain approach of Container Security Initiative promoted by US Government scored relevant results, but the CBRN threats need globally dedicated procedures of response, as well as the collection and filtering of shipping data to identify high risk sources and separate intelligence. For the future, the aim in this field must remain increasing volumes and variety of screening. If in the past the focus may have been on explosive materials, now there is growing interest in nuclear and bio-terrorist threats. Whilst there is recognition that the authorities have neither the technology nor the resources to screen every container for every kind of known threat, this still remains the final aim for a comprehensive container security.

Moreover, the screening methods with existing testing (chemical, biological, radiological) (i.e. large scale X-ray, gamma ray machines and radiation detection devices) still need for new screening methodologies (i.e. non-intrusive inspection). According to the pilot study of 2002 (Detecting Nuclear Material in International Container Shipping: Criteria for Secure Systems. Stanford Study Group Center for International Security And Cooperation Stanford University), the detection of special nuclear material was the main target for container screening. So, while the RN detection is still the advanced sector of CBRN detection’s technologies, the pursuit of a reactive component that can track data for epidemic trails (Ebola, Anthrax, etc.) would be a good research in order to address bio risk in container exchange, in particular for aliments transportation.

With the aim of discussing these topics, an interdisciplinary approach is needed. For this reasons the co-directors will convey experts from the various fields involved in the technics and in the related international policies. Detection technologies, regulatory frameworks, emerging threats and many other topics shall be discussed to approach the movement of containers.

The workshop will be structured in six round-tables, with an introductory speech based on a pre-circulated article or paper. The Directors will require the introductory speakers for preparatory papers or already published articles, according to the theme of each round table:

  • Comparing Experiences: Land, Maritime and Container Security
  • CBRN Threat Vectors
  • Lessons From Rn Security
  • Bio And Chemical Threats Response
  • Strategic Trade And International Security
  • Nuclear Order And Global Security

The aim of the workshop is to gather experts, scholarship and companies in a provocative and high-quality discussion. This will promote future:

  • Adoption of a standardized, harmonized security approach
  • Increase engagement of the governmental, inter-governmental and international organizations whose are engaged in the screening programs (i.e. World Customs Organization, International Maritime Organization)
  • Involve industry and trade communities
  • Liability of supply chains

BOOKLET