Tennessee inspections target terror risks

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A total of 34 drivers and 74 trucks were placed out of service during Operation United STOP, a recent multiagency effort led by the Tennessee Highway Patrol to inspect both rental trucks and commercial vehicles hauling hazardous materials and overseas containers.

During Operation United STOP, which stands for Strategic Transportation Observation & Prevention, more than 2,200 trucks were examined at 17 hazmat checkpoints statewide on Wednesday, Oct. 11. It was the largest simultaneous inspection of its kind ever conducted by one state, says Col. Mike Walker of the Highway Patrol. “This event is a great opportunity for us to educate the public, as well as to remind citizens and the trucking industry that Tennessee is serious about commercial vehicle safety,” Walker says.

During the inspection, 305 trucks were checked by bomb or drug dogs, and 918 were checked for radiological contaminants. Authorities discovered two illegal immigrants and captured one driver who was on the FBI watch list. They also recovered a stolen backhoe, seized a weapon and made four misdemeanor drug arrests. In all, inspectors found 301 safety defects, including a cargo tank missing an internal valve and two trucks with hazmat leaks.

Assisting agencies included the federal and state Departments of Homeland Security, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the FBI, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and local police. Checkpoints were held from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at various locations in seven Highway Patrol districts, including Chattanooga, Cookeville, Fall Branch, Knoxville, Lawrenceburg, Memphis and Nashville. Chattanooga had the most checkpoints with four.