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Published October 18, 2009, 04:58 PM

Dorgan Critical Of Port Of Entry Plan

The Homeland Security Agency is looking to improve ports of entry on the Canadian border. A federal plan to modify them would cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

By: Renee Chmiel, WDAZ

The Homeland Security Agency is looking to improve ports of entry on the Canadian border. A federal plan to modify them would cost taxpayers millions of dollars. A North Dakota senator who is opposed to this plan visited several ports of entry in our area today.

Low-traffic ports of entry along the Canadian border may be completely re-done to improve protection and ensure they meet the Department of Homeland Security's requirements. Re-done may mean torn down and rebuilt.

Sen. Byron Dorgan: "The taxpayers would be better served in my judgment making a decent investment to upgrade the facilities."

Dorgan has been critical of the federal plan...which may involve rebuilding more than 20 ports of entry. Today he visited the ports in Pembina, Neche, and Walhalla.

Tearing down and rebuilding ports of entry like the one in Neche, North Dakota would cost about 15-million dollars each

Sen. Byron Dorgan: I just think that's way out of line and I've asked the department to review that. They're now going through that review.

The port of entry in Neche has about 200 cars and 100 trucks come through on a busy day. Port director Mary Delaquis says although some ports do need to be rebuilt, others just need enhancement.

Mary Delaquis: Their infrastructure needs, really for the electrical requirements alone based on all the technology deployments, are far insufficient in order to meet the needs

The department's 30-day review period ends Friday...and Dorgan says he's hopeful the plan will change.

Sen. Byron Dorgan: My hope is that they will take a look at these requirements and say, you know what? We understand we didn't write these requirements, we're going to change them.

Dorgan says although adequate security and protection are important...modifying ports of entry rather than rebuilding them would save millions.

The port of entry requirements were established in 2006. The new facilities would have interview rooms and strengthened ceilings.

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