2002N-0278 - Prior Notice of Imported Food Under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002; Reopening of Comment Period
FDA Comment Number : EC410
Submitter : Mr. Neal Belitsky Date & Time: 05/17/2004 06:05:30
Organization : Detroit
Private Industry
Category :
Issue Areas/Comments
GENERAL
GENERAL
On December 12, 2003, the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 ('Bioterrorism Act of 2002')(PL 107- 188) went into effect, stating that food and food related products shall no longer be processed electronically via either CBP's Automated Broker Interface (ABI) of the Automated Commercial System (ACS) or the FDA Prior Notice System Interface. The rules also indicate that 'food imported or offered for import without adequate prior notice is subject to refusal and, if refused, must be held.' (21 CFR 1.283).

SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC IMPACT
The Detroit Windsor Tunnel is the busiest passenger border crossing on the U.S. Canadian Border and third busiest overall. Ninety-six percent of our traffic is passenger traffic. However, over 7 percent of our business is commercial - about 700 trucks per day. The commercial traffic that passes through the Tunnel is low risk and generally originates in the Windsor area and ends in Detroit, or vice versa. As a direct result of the BTA, the Tunnel has lost all of its agricultural traffic, effective December 12, 2003.

We lost this business because CPB currently uses the BRASS line release system at the Detroit Windsor Tunnel, and has no plans to implement ACS at the Tunnel to process agricultural products and goods under PAPS or other automated systems. Programs such as C-TPAT and FAST are not implemented at the Tunnel, however, NEXUS has been so successful that CBP added an additional NEXUS lane for a total of two NEXUS lanes.

BRASS (formerly Line Release) plays a vital role in the expeditious movement of cargo on the land border at the Detroit Windsor Tunnel. The BRASS system does not allow for an advance electronic notice prior to arrival at the border. Consequently, the agricultural products are processed using the Pre Arrival Processing System (PAPS) which is not in effect at the Tunnel. The DHS is eventually phasing out BRASS and replace it with PAPS ? although we are unaware of any timeframes.

CBP proposes a gradual transition from the reliance on the paper based BRASS release system to the electronic ACE or PAPS system. Although CPB is unaware of the time frame for the eventual phase out.


INTERIM & LONG TERM SOLUTIONS
The Detroit & Canada Tunnel Corporation (DCTC), operators of the Detroit Windsor Tunnel (Tunnel), supports the implementation of these regulations and is committed to using the Bioterrorism law to safeguard our food supply to the fullest extent possible, without imposing any unnecessary burden on the operators and the low risk travelers and cargo passing through the border. But the Tunnel also supports the implementation of this law when each land border is ready to accept the new technology for the new programs. In the meantime, the Tunnel supports an effort to prolong the phase out of BRASS until a system is in place at the Tunnel to accommodate the new regulations and continue to
accept commercial traffic, including agriculture or food related products.

In the long term, the Tunnel is supporting a request in the FY 2005 Appropriation cycle that would be dedicated to creating a multi-use primary inspection lane that could also be used as a secondary inspection area, of which the Tunnel currently does not have. If this lane is built, the Tunnel will be able to accommodate the phase in of automated technologies at the border.

Please feel free to contact me or Daniel Cherrin at t. 248.540.9660 x 375 / dcherrin@public-i.com, with any questions or concerns.

Yours truly,
Neal Belitsky
Executive Vice President and General Manager