L.A. port beefs up security against bioterrorism

In a newly revealed plan to protect the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex from biological, chemical, radiologic and nuclear attacks, the city's Sheriff's Department has announced a cutting-edge ship, radiation-detecting helicopter and biological and chemical sniffing dog.

"The port complex is one of the most critical infrastructures in the United States," Jack Ewell, who is in charge of the project for the Sheriff's Department, told Los Angeles' CBS2. "It is the largest and the busiest container port in the U.S., with 40 percent of all U.S. imports coming through the port complex. It is estimated that it would cost the U.S. economy $1 billion a day if the port complex was shut down by an incident."

The Sheriff's department's new program will work in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard to implement the system, which will see teams boarding inbound ships to search them before the enter the port complex.

Once aboard the ships, the teams will search for biological and chemical devices as well as conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction.

"Once the ships have been inspected, they are cleared to enter the port complex, where additional security measures are in place by port security officials," Ewell said.

The new screening vessel to be employed will feature biological and chemical detection equipment to allow deputies to screen ships remotely for WMDs. That data can then be immediately transmitted to the hazardous-materials detail headquarters at the Sheriff's Department for further interpretation.