SOURCE: TSA

November 06, 2007 15:24 ET

Tacoma Port Workers Begin Enrollment for Federal Port Security Credential

TACOMA, WA--(Marketwire - November 6, 2007) - Tomorrow, port workers, longshoremen, truckers and others at the Port of Tacoma, become the first in the region 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.

Thousands of workers are expected to enroll over the coming months at the Port of Tacoma and Port of Seattle which begins enrollment mid-December. Nationwide, more than 1 million workers with unescorted access to secure areas will apply 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 Tacoma for helping to make one of the world's most advanced interoperable biometric systems a reality."

Tacoma, the Port of Honolulu and the Port of Baton Rouge, La. all start enrollment Nov. 7 and will bring to five the total number of ports actively enrolling in the nationwide program. 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 Commander Mark McCadden, chief of prevention at Sector Seattle. "It will strengthen security and access control to the port and on thousands of other maritime facilities and vessels."

Workers at the Port of Tacoma are able to pre-enroll for TWIC online at www.tsa.gov/twic or 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 Tacoma: The Port of Tacoma is the economic engine of the South Puget Sound, with more than 43,000 family-wage jobs in Pierce County and more than 113,000 jobs across Washington state connected to Port activities. A major gateway to Asia and Alaska, the Port of Tacoma is the seventh-largest container port in North America, handling an estimated $35.6 billion in annual trade and 2.1 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent container units). The Port is also a major center for bulk, breakbulk and project/heavy-lift cargoes, as well as automobiles and trucks. To learn more about the Port of Tacoma, visit www.portoftacoma.com.