The Port of Oakland is the first major seaport in the nation to complete the installation of monitors to scan all incoming cargo for radiation, Us Customs and Border Protection officials said today.

“Every international container will be scanned before it exits the container yard, giving us a high level of confidence that it does not contain radioactive material,'' said Nat Aycox, director of field operations for the Department of Homeland Security's San Francisco office.

Speaking at a news conference at the Maersk shipping terminal at the Port of Oakland, Aycox said, “Our inspection system of targeting high-risk containers, X-rays and physical inspections, complemented by radiation portal monitors, markedly increases the safety of maritime cargo.''

Joe Wong, the Port of Oakland's deputy executive director, said, “We're very pleased with the monitors because they will help us protect our workers and visitors and maintain the integrity of our operations.''

Under the $4 million project, 25 portals will screen all international container traffic leaving the Port of Oakland's seven terminals for any nuclear materials or hidden sources of radiation.

Aycox said customs officials hope to have the monitors in place at all seaports and airports in the United States in the near future.

In a statement, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner said, “Oakland is the first port in the nation where the radiation portal monitors are completely installed and operable.''

He said the monitors “are just one of the many layers of defense Customs and Border Protection uses in carrying out our priority mission of protecting our country from terrorists and terrorist weapons.''

Bonner said, “We are committed to technology that allows the economy in the Bay Area to thrive, but more importantly, to protect its citizens from harm.''

Customs and Border Protection is an agency within the Department of Homeland Security that's charged with the management, control and protection of the nation's borders at and between official ports of entry.

Wong said the Port of Oakland is the fourth-largest container port in the United States and moves $30 billion worth of goods annually.

Aycox said 3,500 to 5,000 containers move through the Port of Oakland every day.