Cargo Security Tests Employee Real-Time Global Positioning

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The fate of an international cargo security test is in Gov.-elect John Lynch's hands.

The test would be the second for Operation Safe Commerce, a regional public-private partnership started after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The group's first test occurred in 2002.

It used Global Positioning System technology to track a cargo container that traveled from Slovakia through the port of Montreal, Canada. The container entered New Hampshire from Highgate Springs, Vt., before reaching its final destination in Hillsboro.

The second test would track a container from Europe as it travels through Montreal and arrives in Londonderry. It would require the partner governments of New Hampshire, Vermont and Canada to pay $1.1 million. New Hampshire's share is $300,000.

New Hampshire has not yet approved funding for the project. A state task force recommended using homeland security funds received in 2003 for the initiative.

But Gov. Craig Benson opted not to do so, said U.S. Attorney Thomas Colantuono of New Hampshire. Colantuono is the co-chairman of the Northeast Working Group, which oversees the project. A Benson spokesman said key details about the test were unclear at the time.

Benson's decision leaves the issue to Lynch. Colantuono said he hopes to meet with the governor-elect soon to discuss the project. Lynch spokeswoman Pam Walsh said Lynch is looking forward to the meeting.

Officials with Buderus Hydronic Systems Inc, a Londonderry water-heating equipment manufacturer, volunteered a container for the second test. Operations manager Holger Hinse said the firm receives about 750 containers annually from its four European manufacturing plants.

All the plants ship their products to North America through Montreal's port. He said truckers then bring the cargo down I-89 to Londonderry.

Hinse said tracking systems could help his company avoid container searches, helping prevent business slowdowns. He said his firm would run out of products in three weeks if shipping slowed down or stopped.

``If a kit of a boiler is 10 parts, and you're running out of one part, you cannot sell the whole boiler,'' he said.

Unlike the first test, the upcoming project will track the Londonderry company's container in real time, Colantuono said. He also said the GPS device will use ``a much more powerful battery'' in the next test.

``All this stuff is traveling through our state, and we need to keep a free flow of goods open,'' he said. But, he added, ``our job is to protect our borders, protect our people, and we take that job very seriously.''