I-Report: Some shipping handlers shirking new rules

February 11, 2011 4:45:45 PM PST
Since last August, all cargo on passenger planes in the U.S. has had to be screened for explosives, chemicals and other dangerous material.

In this Intelligence Report: some shipping handlers have been caught shirking those new rules, resulting in unscreened cargo on passenger planes.

There was no way that the Transportation Security Administration itself could possibly screen each and every piece of airborne cargo for explosives. Nothing would ever get shipped.

So before the deadline to screen all cargo on passenger planes last August, the TSA started a program that trained and certified shippers and forwarding companies to do it themselves.

Not everyone has been playing by the rules.

More than 500 TSA agents check whether cargo shipped on passenger planes has been properly inspected under the certified cargo screening program.

With little fanfare in the past few weeks, five shipping companies have been cited for not properly inspecting cargo before putting it on aircraft.

In late December, TSA completely shut down one company ? Activair -- while authorities investigate allegations that the company transferred large quantifies of freight to passenger airlines, without X-raying or inspecting any of it.

Now, this cargo company Panalpina has been issued a "suspension order" by TSA, ordering that screening must be temporarily stopped while TSA investigates possible security breaches.

The TSA enforcement against Panalpina was served at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport, although the company operates a major facility at O'Hare.

The Panalpina general manager in Chicago declined to comment and a corporate spokesman did not return ABC7's calls.

A second shipping company at DFW-Concordia also had screening privileges suspended and two additional cargo firms, Kintetsu and Schenker had violations so serious that TSA officials kicked them out of the screening program at DFW altogether.

On Friday night in Chicago, a TSA spokesman tells the I-Team:"The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is investigating possible regulatory violations by certified cargo screening facilities. We will not comment on details of the investigation while it is ongoing."

Even though most cargo on passenger jets went uninspected for decades, now that the law says 100 percent of it has to pass inspection, TSA officials say they move quickly when violators are uncovered taking immediate shutdown action.

The four cargo firms disciplined in Dallas all have facilities at O'Hare but because TSA suspensions are not companywide, the firms' Chicago operations continue.