How the CEFs work
- How are containers selected?
- What is the procedure when a container is selected for examination?
- What technology and other resources are used at CEFs?
- Will examined goods be adversely by x-ray?
- How long does examination take?
- What happens after a container is x-rayed?
Cargo Reports are lodged electronically before a vessel’s arrival. All Cargo Reports are screened and risk assessed. Selections for examination are made on the basis of these assessments.
What is the procedure when a container is selected for examination?
Customs and Border Protection places a hold on selected cargo and notifies the Container Terminal Operator (CTO) that the container is required at the CEF. The CTO and a Customs and Border Protection contracted road transport service transfers the selected container to the CEF.
At the four major CEFs, the truck drives into the x-ray hall and the container is scanned while still on the truck. X-ray inspection, including analysis, takes approximately 15 minutes. The majority of sea cargo containers are processed and returned to the wharf within 30 minutes.
If the x-ray image reveals that further investigation is required, the container is unloaded for detailed physical examination. At smaller CEFs, all containers are unloaded for physical examination. Unloaded containers are tested for fumigants and are de-fumigated where required. Under Customs and Border Protection supervision, contracted labour unpacks and repacks containers requiring examination.
What technology and other resources are used at CEFs?
Each Container Examination Facility holds an International Standards Organization Quality Management System accreditation.
Container Examination Facilities use container x-ray systems that are capable of scanning a 40 foot container in less than two minutes. The smaller CEFs use pallet and/or cabinet x-ray systems to x-ray goods.
Customs and Border Protection x-ray systems leave no residual radiation, and have no effect on food, film or other sensitive goods.
The x-ray systems meet the stringent radiation safety standards imposed by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.
The CEFs also use other Customs and Border Protection resources, including cabinet x-ray technology, drug detector dogs and particle trace detection (ionscan and chemical detectors) technology. The CEFs are interlinked with other Customs and Border Protection processes including intelligence-driven risk-assessment, commercial compliance activity, and better evaluation processes to determine the integrity of import and export data.
Will examined goods be adversely affected by x-ray?
No. As outlined above, Customs and Border Protection has undertaken extensive work to assess the safe operation of the x-ray.
How long does an examination take?
The x-ray inspection of the container, including the analysis of the image by trained image-inspection officers, takes approximately 6-15 minutes. If the image reveals that a further inspection is required, the container will be unloaded at the facility for a detailed physical examination. The length of time required for this examination will vary according to the type of examination required, for example whether the container has to be defumigated. In most cases, the examination is completed within 24 hours.
What happens after a container is x-rayed?
After x-ray scan and image inspection, most containers are given immediate clearance and returned to the wharf. If an anomaly is detected in a container, it is detained for a more detailed physical examination. Of the containers x-rayed daily, approximately 10 per cent are selected for further physical examination.