High-tech facility to beef up border defence

High-tech facility to beef up border defence
The training suite, which will occupy an area of around 190 sq m, will be part of a larger facility to tighten checks at the world's second busiest port.

SINGAPORE - A new training facility to beef up expertise in stopping dangerous materials from crossing Singapore's borders will be built in Pasir Panjang.

A tender has been called for a scientific demonstration suite which will allow officers to familiarise themselves with chemicals, biological agents, nuclear materials and explosives as well as the latest means to detect and foil attempts to smuggle them in.

The training suite, which will occupy an area of around 190 sq m, will be part of a larger facility to tighten checks at the world's second busiest port.

The Protective Analytical and Assessment Facility (PAAF), plans for which were first revealed in 2011, will have the tools to detect and analyse dangerous materials, and have the equipment to deal with any immediate fallout.

Technology likely to be employed includes X-ray-based equipment to analyse substances, systems to detect and measure the concentration of bio-terrorism agents such as anthrax, and hand-held devices that search for radioactive materials.

A similar facility, described as the first of its kind in the world, was opened at the Tuas Checkpoint in 2009, but the new one will be four times as big.

As the tender process has not closed yet, no completion date has been set for the new facility.

"The PAAF is designed and equipped to detect and analyse hazardous materials... that may enter Singapore through our ports," an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority spokesman said.

Dr Michael Raska, a research fellow in the military transformations programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), said the need to stay alert at Singapore's ports is critical given its position in the shipping industry.

In 2013, Singapore handled more than 32 million containers, slightly behind the Port of Shangai, which tops the list of the world's busiest.

RSIS nuclear safety senior fellow Kwa Chong Guan added: "We are living in an increasingly risky world of new and more dangerous chemical, biological and radiological threats."

hpeishan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Jan 25, 2015.
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