Port security raises concerns

THE security of our port has come under scrutiny following allegations from a number of port workers.

The Observer has obtained information from workers that allege there is a lack of security protocols in place.

The most serious allegation concerned the transportation of ammonium nitrate to a local industrial site.

A port worker who preferred to remain anonymous said the loading of ammonium nitrate had very few security controls in place.

'What happens is that a truck enters through a back gate onto the wharf area, loads up the ammonium nitrate then drives the load to the plant,' he said.

"Generally the unloading of the ship occurs on a 24-hour basis and trucks are entering and leaving constantly.

'There is one security officer at the wharf gate and that officer has no building to work out of, nor is there any lighting at the gate at night.'

The worker also said security officers at the industrial site were only on duty for certain hours of the day, leaving it unmanned for extended periods.

"Consequently there is no one to physically check the bona fides of the driver after a certain time, so proper security is laughable, he claimed.

Another source working within the ports claimed security at another wharf area in Gladstone was simply a token gesture.

'There are so many places from which you can access this wharf without having to go through any serious security checks,' the source said.

'I find it ludicrous that an article printed by The Observer some weeks ago made mention of the fact that security has tightened for international ships docking at Gladstone,' he said.

'I have been working at the port for several years now and I can tell you nothing has changed.'

The source claimed security workers had been let down, alleging there were no regular standing orders in place to allow security officers to monitor the movements of personnel on foreign ships.

He claimed there was an instance recently whereby a foreign ship had been docked at the wharf for three days before security officers were given the list of crew movements.

'The security officer at that wharf received the approved crew movement list two hours prior to the ship departing,' he said.

CQPA has refused to comment on the allegations despite requests from The Observer.

However, Australian Customs spokesperson Matt Wardell explained under current procedures, once crews had been cleared by Customs they could come and go as they pleased.

But he said more changes were about to be put into place, requiring foreign ships to provide crew lists and cargo manifests 72 hours prior to arriving in Australian waters.

"As well, anyone coming into a secure area of the port will be required to provide photo identification and security clearance.

Mr Wardell said the job of Customs was to ensure the monitoring procedures for border security were in place and adequate. "These procedures would be different to what happens on the gate at each port,' he said.

A spokesperson from the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) said it did not mandate the security measures the port must implement.

The spokesperson said under the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003, the port operator for a security regulated port such as Gladstone was required to conduct a security assessment and implement an approved security plan that identified any risk.

This security plan must detail appropriate security measures at three security levels.

He said the secretary of DOTARS would then direct which security level was in force at the port from time to time, based on the prevailing security intelligence.

Transport Minister Paul Lucas has also declined to respond to the

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