Sniffer Dogs Lead to Scare At Seattle Port

Associated Press
Thursday, August 17, 2006

SEATTLE, Aug. 16 -- Authorities evacuated dozens of workers and set up a half-mile perimeter around part of the city's port Wednesday after bomb-sniffing dogs indicated that two shipping containers from Pakistan could contain explosives.

Customs agents used a "gamma-ray" device at Terminal 18, south of downtown, to peer through the containers' steel walls, and detected items inside that did not match the containers' manifest, agency spokesman Mike Milne said.

The containers were then subjected to the dogs' attention, which raised concerns about explosives. A bomb squad that searched the containers found nothing dangerous.

Officials said the containers were supposed to contain oily rags, which are often shipped internationally for recycling or for use in packaging. Authorities continued to examine the cargo Wednesday afternoon.

It was not immediately clear why the dogs were mistaken.

Milne said the ship had originated in Hong Kong and made stops in China before arriving Monday in Seattle.

Terminal 18 covers nearly 200 acres, making it the port's largest container terminal and one of the largest in the nation. It serves more than 20 steamship lines and receives more than 40 vessels each month.

Earlier Wednesday, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, urged authorities to establish a program for screening all cargo containers. "We have the technology. We know the risks," he said.

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