The United States government is set to provide more nuclear and radiation detection equipment to the Philippine government to be deployed to ports in Manila and Cebu by next year.
According to Kim Prono, a representative of the US Department of Energy, the move is meant to increase security measures at the country’s major ports, to prevent nuclear proliferation and combat nuclear smuggling.
Prono said that the additional equipment will be deployed to the major port facilities operated by the Cebu Ports Authority and also to the berth 6 of the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), which is still under construction.
MICT is operated by International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI). The United States Department of Energy recently cited ICTSI for the latter’s crucial role in the successful rollout of the Megaports Initiative’s radiation detection systems at the MICT.
“We are still in discussions with various (Philippine government’s) agencies on the deployment of the additional equipment,” Prono told reporters during the commission of the Megaports System at the port of Manila recently.
“We aim to scan as many containers as possible without affecting the port’s operations,” she said.
The US government has already given the Philippines some $26 million worth of radiation detection equipment already installed at the Manila South Harbor, operated by Asian Terminals Inc., and at MICT, the country’s largest.
Around 25 percent of the volume handled by the two ports in Manila goes to the United States.
A ceremony was held on Tuesday at the ICTSI’s main office in Manila to start the operation of the said radiation equipment.
The said Megaports Initiative has been under discussions between US and Philippine governments since 2005, but it was only this year that it was fully implemented following the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident last March.
The said equipment was used to detect radiation on food that came from Japan.
The Port of Manila, the country’s shipping hub, is one of the major feeder ports in Singapore, China and Japan.
The US government also installed the same type of radiation detection equipment in 38 more sites all over the world, including bigger ports in the region such as in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia.
The goal of the said project is to scan as many containers as possible on imports, exports and transshipped containers regardless of destination. The US wants to install detection equipment in 100 ports and scan half of the global container traffic by 2018.