New Security Grants Awarded for Virginia Port Facilities

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has awarded five port security grants to commercial marine facilities in Hampton Roads.

The Virginia Port Authority collected three of the grants, worth a combined $2.1 million, to improve access controls at its three cargo terminals in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News.

The other local recipients were Apex Oil Co. in Chesapeake and Center Terminal Co.-Norfolk in Chesapeake. The $225,035 grant to Apex Oil is also for access controls, while Center Terminal will receive $196,350 for security improvements.

The awards are part of the fourth round of grants from Homeland Security to help protect vulnerable maritime facilities from terrorist attacks.

The department announced $49.4 million in grants this week.

Through four rounds of port security grants, Homeland Security has doled out $490 million.

The Virginia Port Authority has received $11.4 million of the grants, covering 48 percent of the cost of the $23.7 million in port security projects that the state ports agency has initiated since Sept. 11, 2001.

Another $8.6 million of security improvements remains unfunded, according to a recent port authority report.

Despite the unfunded projects, the port authority is in compliance with all government security regulations and policies.

Port authority officials were unavailable to explain the access control projects at its terminals.

Apex Oil also received a grant for access control. The company manages and operates a storage terminal on the Elizabeth River's Southern Branch off Barnes Road in Chesapeake. Based in Clayton, Mo., Apex Oil is a wholesale distributor of gasoline, kerosene, diesel, heavy oil and bunker fuels.

The Apex Oil terminal manager in Chesapeake said he could not elaborate on how the security grant would be spent.

Center Terminal's petroleum terminal and tank farm, formerly owned by Crown Central Petroleum, also sits on the Southern Branch in Chesapeake.

It is one of four East Coast terminals used by St. Louis-based Center Oil Co., which is one of the largest wholesale gasoline distributors in the eastern United States.

Center Terminal officials declined to comment on the record about the grant, which could be used for fencing, lighting and other security work.