PORT MANATEE -- New video cameras, including some with night-time capabilities, will soon be installed to protect high-value cargos -- potentially including automobiles -- at Port Manatee.
This week, the port is ordering 30 new surveillance cameras from Seimens and intends to install them before the end of the year. Purchased with a $157,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security, the cameras will focus in particular on monitoring a 10-acre storage yard the port expects to use for imported and exported cars and trucks.
David St. Pierre, director of seaport security, said the cameras will be added to Port Manatee's established video surveillance network. The additions come as California-based Pasha Group negotiates with vehicle manufacturers to bring its Mexico vehicle import and export business to Port Manatee. Pasha has tentatively committed to using the port, a large warehouse and the paved "intermodal container yard" to ship vehicles in and out of the United States. It could begin operations as soon as early 2015.
St. Pierre said the new cameras will be used to keep an eye on "high-value cargo" stored in the intermodal yard, particularly vehicles if Pasha brings its business to the port. Some of the cameras will use the infrared spectrum to enhance their low-light filming abilities, giving the video network better night time coverage. All the cameras will work through the port's established video monitoring software.
The cameras are the most recent addition to the port's security infrastructure. Late last month, the port received $1.8 million in grant funds from the Federal Emergency Management Administration earmarked for security upgrades at the port's
south gate and for converting some office space into a training and emergency response center.
The money for the cameras comes from a 2011 Homeland Security grant. The camera purchase was made this week without final approval from the Manatee County Port Authority board of commissioners to meet a funding deadline. The grant is scheduled to expire at the end of August. Seimens required the order be placed early to guarantee the transaction would be complete by the federal deadline.
The port authority will take the issue up at its regular meeting Thursday. Dave Sanford, the port's deputy executive director, said the commissioners were "comfortable with the decision" to make the purchase without a final vote to sign off.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.