A new era: The X-ray machine will move to and fro on metal railings to scan the contents of shipping containers. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
A new era: The X-ray machine will move to and fro on metal railings to scan the contents of shipping containers. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

FRIDAY, JULY 6: The X-ray scanner at Hamilton Docks will usher in a new era of border protection, according to William Pearman.

During an exclusive tour of the facility yesterday, the Assistant Collector of Customs explained how it will intercept contraband: “Hamilton Docks will no longer be the weak link.

“The scanner means at least a 90 per cent improvement on where we were.

“Not only will we be able to say without doubt that we are confident that we have stopped anything illegal coming into Bermuda but we will have the evidence to support it by retaining the images. It is a new era for Bermuda. This equipment is used in many countries already and many are moving towards it. It will be like we have moved from having no control to having total control of what comes in at the port. It’s a big step.”

A series of radiation tests were conducted on Wednesday after the X-ray machine was switched on for the first time in Bermuda.

The results showed that radiation levels emitted from the scanner were just one tenth of the established safety standard.

Mr Pearman said: “Readings were taken from around the scanning area after the machine had been energized. The results were well within the established standard and I’m happy with the initial results.

“Bermuda has adopted the Canadian standard and it is a very stringent one.

“I hope this test proves to people there is nothing to worry about. It is only now that we are getting to the end of the project that we are meeting the most resistance with issues of radiation. There has been resistance from some parts because people have seen the big machine and know it emits radiation.

“The test was to disprove any misconceptions.”

Mr Pearman said that initially the decision of whether to scan a container would be ‘intelligence led’.

But he said there was no reason why a 100 per cent screening policy on incoming and outgoing containers could not be implement in Bermuda in the future: “This operation has been designed with 100 per cent screening in mind of both containers coming in and as well as containers going out. Staff continue to receive specialist training on how to operate this equipment. We be conducting a site acceptance test between July 17 and 19 when all the equipment and small systems will be thoroughly tested by systems experts from abroad. Once that has been done we will look to have everything up and running by July 23. I am very happy to see it all come together.”

National Security Minister, Wayne Perinchief, told us: “The X-ray scanner brings another level of security to the country in that metal objects at least, such as guns, won’t be able to enter the country freely. It’s also an international requirement that we support security on our docks. I’m happy — it’s a bit late because of all the infrastructure like road works which had to be put in place — but it’s here now and will add to the security of the country.”