Illinois Port Seeks $4 Million for Homeland Security Efforts

The Illinois International Port District at Chicago is asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $4 million to secure its 2,700 acres from terrorists.

Peter Cunningham, spokesman for the port, said the district already has spent $700,000 on security. It currently is in the process of erecting nearly four miles of barb-and razor-wire fencing along its land-side perimeter.

"We're taking extra measures to prevent acts of terrorism," he said.

The fencing work began about six months ago with portions completed along the Port's property on the east side of the Bishop Ford expressway. The entire project will "take some time" to complete, Cunningham said.

"The fence will prevent access on foot, but the reality is a guy in a motor boat could drive up to the port facilities," Cunningham said.

"There will be additional video surveillance and other measures put in place."

The Port plans to acquire some type of X-ray equipment to examine the cargo of boats, barges and ships using its facilities. It will also enhance security and video monitoring systems, as well as the perimeter barrier, which is comprised of two fences, he said.

The port, which advertises itself as the link between the nation's inland river system, the Great Lakes and the global marketplace, is home to Iroquois Landing, Lake Calumet Harbor and Harborside Golf Course. The golf course won't be enclosed by the security fence, Cunningham said.

Iroquois Landing on the Calumet River at Lake Michigan encompasses 500 acres of land, which includes an open-paved terminal with 3,000 linear feet of ship and barge berthing space with a navigational depth of 27 feet and two 110,000-square-feet transit sheds, with direct truck and rail access, according to the port's Web site.

Iroquois Landing handles ocean-going vessels, called Salties, as well as lake boats and barges, which pick-up and deliver steel products and semi-finished steel. The port's steel shipments were at an all-time high during the first quarter 2005, with Ceres Terminal -- its largest tenant at Iroquois Landing -- handling 60,000 tons of steel in February alone, Cunningham said.

Lake Calumet Harbor, which handles liquid bulk, bulk grain, steel and scrap, aluminum, zinc, lead, sugar, cement, stone and stone products, is comprised of 2,200 acres at the junction of the Grand Calumet and Little Calumet rivers approximately six miles inland from Lake Michigan, the Web site says.

The southwest quadrant of the harbor consists of three transit sheds totaling more than 315,000 square feet adjacent to approximately 3,000 linear feet of ship and barge berthing space.