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Cablegate: Spain: Update On Megaports Non-Proliferation

VZCZCXYZ0003
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMD #1909/01 2741744
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011744Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3543
INFO RUEHSS/OECD POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 0371
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 0123
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 5222
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0118
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA 0235
RUEHBH/AMEMBASSY NASSAU 0359
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 0389
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS MADRID 001909

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EWWT ENRG PARM PREL SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN: UPDATE ON MEGAPORTS NON-PROLIFERATION
INITIATIVE

1. (SBU) Summary. On September 17-18, representatives from
the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) visited
Spain to assess the implementation of the Megaports program
at the Port of Algeciras and negotiate a cost-sharing
expansion to Spain's other leading ports: Barcelona and
Valencia. The Megaports Initiative is a Department of Energy
(DOE) program to detect illicit nuclear and radioactive cargo
at ports and was inaugurated in Algeciras in June 2006. The
delegation learned that although the program is successfully
being implemented for import and export traffic, union
stevedores are blocking the full implementation of the
selective scanning program for transshipment cargo. For the
time being, transshipment cargo represents 90-97 percent of
all traffic at the Port of Algeciras. Despite this setback,
NNSA is moving forward with plans to expand the Megaports
program to Barcelona and Valencia. The earliest date by
which the Barcelona and Valencia Megaports programs could be
implemented is December 2008. This cable has been cleared by
representatives from NNSA. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ------
PROBLEMS WITH MEGAPORTS IMPLEMENATION AT ALGECIRAS
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (SBU) In a visit to the Port of Algeciras September 17,
NNSA representatives and EconOff learned that while Megaports
is being implemented for import and export traffic,
transshipment cargo was virtually being ignored. The Port of
Algeciras, one of the most important shipping ports in Spain
and worldwide, receives 90-97 of its shipping in
transshipment cargo (cargo that is offloaded from one ship to
another). To address this shipping pattern, the NNSA
installed two specialized sets of radiation portal monitors
on the quay so that a sample of shipping containers could be
quickly scanned before being transferred to another ship.
The import/export traffic is more easily scanned via portal
monitors installed at the entry/exit gates of the Port of
Algeciras.

3. (SBU) According to port officials, unionized stevedores
are largely to blame for the lack of implementation of the
transshipment portion of the program. The reasons behind the
union workers' reluctance to implement the program vary.
Some argue that this program will affect them financially.
The stevedores are paid by the number of containers moved,
and a diversion of their normal routes may impact how many
containers they can move per day. Others have expressed
broader discomfort with the program, erroneously associating
the nuclear detecting portals with potential health hazards.
Still others may be using this issue as a bargaining chip to
leverage other union issues during an upcoming collective
bargaining process between the unions and the Port.

4. (SBU) Despite efforts to educate the union workers to the
benefits of this program, an unrelated July port accident
which resulted in the deaths of two union workers has
temporarily halted talks. Emotions are high on the July
crane deaths, and port officials fear that if they attempt to
push for Megaports implementation at this sensitive juncture,
this move may backlash and potentially jeopardize Megaports
implementation at other Spanish ports. Port officials
advised that it was best to stand down on Megaports
negotiations while the sensitivities surrounding the
unrelated incident diminish.

-----------------------------------
EXPANSION TO VALENCIA AND BARCELONA
-----------------------------------

5. (SBU) NNSA wrapped up their visit in Madrid with a meeting
that included representatives from Spanish customs, the Ports
of Valencia and Barcelona, and Spain's Nuclear Safety
Advisory. Despite the problems encountered with
transshipment cargo in Algeciras, the participants agreed
that expansion to Barcelona and Valencia would still be
worthwhile since those ports handle a large quantity of
export and import traffic (on average about 80 percent). All
parties expressed enthusiasm for the expansion. They also
were tentatively willing to share costs, pending budget
approval from the appropriate channels. Spanish central
customs officials added that training on the Megaports
equipment was ongoing and had been incorporated as part of
their standard training program in the Madrid central
training center. NNSA offered to look into supporting these
training efforts.

-------
COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) Despite problems with union workers, the GOS is
extremely supportive of the Megaports program. In addition
to expanding to Valencia and Barcelona, Spanish customs
authorities expressed interest in expanding the Megaports
concept to as many ports in Spain as possible. Over the next
few months, NNSA contractors will travel to Spain to assist
in the planning of Megaports expansion efforts. We will
continue to report on their progress as well as any other
developments relating to Algeciras. The earliest date by
which the Megaports programs in Valencia and Barcelona would
be up and running would be December 2008.

LLORENS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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