Faced with mounting port security costs and a fiscal crunch, Mayor Carolyn Kirk and Massachusetts senators are pushing for $1 million in federal funds to beef up port security for the city, citing a number of threats to the city's safety.
Sens. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy wrote a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, urging him to award the city the money as part of the Port Security Grant Program that allocated $388.6 million for port security nationwide in fiscal year 2008.
The senators' letter came at the request of Kirk, who said that while Gloucester is characterized as a suburban area, the port is in fact urban and the area around it houses a core of the city's residents.
"It is important that homeland security money go to where it is needed most," Kirk said in a statement.
In their letter, the senators cite the two off-shore liquefied natural gas terminals within 13 miles and the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant, about 20 miles away, as potential "at-risk assets."
One LNG terminal, operated by Excelerate Energy LLC, completed construction in December and is located 13 miles southeast of Gloucester. The other, operated by Suez North America, is being constructed 10 miles southeast of the city and will have its operations headquartered at Cruiseport Gloucester.
"Gloucester needs federal help in keeping up with the city's growing homeland security risks," said Kerry. "Providing additional federal funding to the city would provide it with the resources to ensure the residents of Gloucester are safe and secure."
The senators also said that the seaport, state highway system, commuter rail line, reservoirs, natural gas pipeline and portside terminal have been identified as critical infrastructure by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"Protection of Gloucester's energy and transportation assets should not fall entirely on the shoulders of its residents," said Kennedy. "This federal funding will go a long way in providing security to these resources essential to the commonwealth."
According to the letter, city officials have estimated that costs associated with growing homeland security requirements increase by $1 million each year. The funding from the Port Security Grant Program provides money to enhance ports' risk management capabilities, training, exercises and capabilities in preventing and responding to terrorist attacks.