U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been using a vehicle X-ray machine at the Peace Arch border crossing since October.
Motorists, including U.S. citizens and NEXUS passholders, have been required to drive through the machine, known as a Z Portal, on a case-by-case basis, said a CBP spokesperson. The Z Portal is a “multi-view, multi-technology, cargo and vehicle screening system,” according to its manufacturer, American Science and Engineering, Inc. (AS&E).
According to the AS&E website, the machine generates multiple images of vehicles at different angles simultaneously, highlighting “metallic and organic threats and contraband, such as weapons, stowaways, explosives, drugs and alcohol.”
“CBP has been using the Z Portal technology for several years; however, the Z Portal is new to the Peace Arch port of entry,” said CBP press officer Jason Givens. “Non-intrusive imaging systems such as the Z Portal are valuable tools that assist CBP in its mission to safeguard America’s borders thereby protecting the public from dangerous people and materials while enhancing the nation’s global economic competitiveness by enabling legitimate trade and travel.”
Givens said that the machines have been used elsewhere by CBP for several years, and that the machines do not present a radiation or cancer risk to those who cross the border frequently. “The Z Portal is safe,” he said in an April 13 email. “The exposure level is miniscule and is well below limits established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).”
Separately, Givens said that there have not been any layoffs or reassignments of frontline CBP officers due to the drastic reduction in cross-border travel. In an email, a CBSA spokesperson said that no frontline CBSA officers have lost their jobs either, although some officers may be reassigned to help with COVID-19 entry screening.