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Houston Airport System
September 12, 2006
Located just northeast of George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), the IAH CargoCenter�s one-stop-shop is a unique resource that provides state-of-the-art facilities for cargo carriers of any size or structure.
This facility houses all the federal agencies involved in the processing of air cargo under one roof. More specifically, the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Food and Drug Administration and the Houston Airport System.
It also highlights Bush Intercontinental Airport�s role as one of the primary international air cargo distribution hubs in the United States.
� Houston Airport System
Air cargo shipments through Houston are big business, especially on a global scale .
More than 600 freight forwarders in the Houston area serve IAH and facilitate the annual movement of more than 347,000 metric tons of air cargo.
�The IAH CargoCenter�s one-stop-shop meets the demands of the growing import/export business in Houston,� said Richard Vacar, director of the Houston Airport System. �Our airports' central location and Houston's all-inclusive transportation network make us the ideal hub for global expansion and market convergences.�
Inaugurated in 2003, this facility offers easy access to for cargo brokers, cargo customers and air cargo carriers. All of these organizations serve their own purposes and have their own requirements concerning cargo inspection.
Customs and Border Protection is one of the lead agencies involved with cargo inspection at IAH. They are in charge of cargo operations which examine cargo for commercial purposes and air cargo enforcement which includes the contraband enforcement team and anti-terrorist groups. This agency utilizes sophisticated computer technology to clear cargo while it is still in the air, reducing red tape, speeding up shipment delivery and ultimately saving shippers money.
Another lead agency involved with cargo inspection at IAH is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Perishables are immediately inspected upon arrival to get them to market without delay.
The USDA also consists of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, making IAH one of the few airports in the US certified to clear propagative plant materials and seeds from foreign countries. New technologies are used to detect and identify any insects or plant diseases present in cargo shipments to the U.S., with procedures in place to take appropriate action if necessary.
The Fish Wildlife Services agency clears exotic wildlife entering the country, either dead or alive, and enforces the endangered species act. They work closely with the USDA and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) who are cross-trained to seize exotic wildlife. This agency may also deal with live primate shipments. Live animals typically processed by the Fish and Wildlife Services include tropical fish, reptiles and mammals.
Although the primary operation for INS is inside IAH�s passenger terminals, they may occasionally raise a concern regarding a cargo crew. At this time, they are called out to the IAH CargoCenter�s one-stop-shop to investigate.
Collecting drugs and food is imperative when it comes to cargo. The Food and Drug Administration collects samples of drugs and foods which are shipped out to labs located elsewhere in the country.
With a cargo area that extends 880,000 square feet, IAH is the 10th largest international gateway in the United States.
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