updated 4/26/2011 7:15:49 PM ET 2011-04-26T23:15:49

HOUSTON, April 26, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority awarded $20 million for security-related contracts, including installation of fiber optic cable, TWIC implementation and security gate services, among several matters approved during the April 26 meeting. Also at the meeting, the Port of Houston Authority received a new, three-year certification for International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 28000 security management, following successful completion of its security management systems audit.

"I congratulate you on being the leader in the security management field," said Patti Macon, Environmental, Health & Safety Certification Manager for ABS Quality Evaluations, Inc. "We consider the Port of Houston Authority our partner in security management system evaluation." Macon noted that the Port Authority has achieved continual improvement with each audit.

In February 2008, the Port of Houston Authority set a standard for security as the first port authority in the world to receive the international designation of ISO 28000:2007 certification for its Port Police and perimeter security operations. The SMS was modeled after the Port Authority's highly successful Environmental Management System, which made it the first port authority in the U.S. to attain ISO 14001 certification in 2002.

In his monthly report, Chief Executive Officer Alec G. Dreyer said March was strong in all commodity categories, calling it the best month since he joined the Port Authority in September 2009.

"Ship arrivals at our container facilities were up a strong 22 percent for the month, regaining what was lost in February due to the short month and fog-related impacts," he said.

Twenty-foot-equivalent unit (TEU) volumes and container tonnage were both up 16 percent for the month, Dreyer noted. Year-to-date, TEUs are up 6 percent and tonnage is up 7 percent.

"Steel also had an excellent month in March, with tonnage up 112 percent or 192,000 tons to a monthly total of 363,000 tons," he said. "Year-to-date, steel is at 863,000 tons – ahead of last year by nearly 400,000 tons. Turning Basin revenue is up 43 percent - 31 percent for the first quarter - which is directly related to the increase in steel.

"Container volumes for April also look very strong through the first three weeks of this month," he said. "We had two 8,000-TEU ship arrivals– the largest container ships that have ever come into the Gulf (of Mexico)."

Engineering & Real Estate

(Agenda H2) The Port Commission approved a $3.7 million construction contract with Southeast Underground Utilities, Inc. for security fiber optic cable installation in the Turning Basin Terminal area. The project will include cabling to the existing wireless security equipment at various Turning Basin and Clinton Drive area locations. The project qualifies for federal reimbursement of up to 75 percent of its costs.

(Agenda H3) The Port Commission approved a $1.5 million construction contract with Texas Technical Services, Inc. for Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) implementation at the Barbours Cut and Bayport terminal gates. The project will install upgraded TWIC-compliant readers and associated equipment and qualifies for federal reimbursement of up to 75 percent of the project cost.

(Agenda H6) The Port Commission approved a $1.15 million contract with APS Technology Group, Inc. for Phase 3 entry gate optical character recognition (OCR) system to Bayport Terminal. The Bayport exit gate currently uses an OCR system by APS. To ensure full compatibility, efficient operational performance and ease of use by operations, Phase 3 of the Bayport Terminal entry gate will use the same system.

Operations

(Agenda L1) The Port Commission approved a three-year, $14.8 million contract with U.S. Security Associates, Inc. for unarmed, uniformed, security gate officer services at Port Authority facilities, including Turning Basin, Barbours Cut, Bayport ,Manchester, Woodhouse and Care terminals, beginning July 1, 2011.

About the Port of Houston Authority

The Port of Houston Authority owns and operates the public facilities located along the Port of Houston, the 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities designed for handling general cargo, containers, grain and other dry bulk materials, project and heavy lift cargo, and other types of cargo. Each year, there are more than 7,700 vessel calls at the port, which ranks first in the U.S. in foreign waterborne tonnage and second in overall total tonnage. The port authority plays a vital role in ensuring navigational safety along the Houston Ship Channel, which has been instrumental in Houston's development as a center of international trade. The Barbours Cut Container Terminal and Central Maintenance Facility are the first of any U.S. port facilities to develop and implement an innovative Environmental Management System that meets the rigorous standards of ISO 14001. The second recertification of those facilities in 2009 included an extension for the state-of-the-art Bayport Container Terminal. The port authority is the first port authority in the world to receive ISO 28000:2007 certification for its port police and the perimeter security operations at both the Barbours Cut and Bayport Terminals. Additionally, the port is an approved delivery point for Coffee "C" futures contracts traded on the New York Board of Trade's Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange. For more information, please visit www.portofhouston.com

To access the port's Web site photo gallery, please visit http://www.portofhouston.com/publicrelations/publicrelations.html and click the link for Port Authority Photo Gallery.

The Port of Houston Authority logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=720

CONTACT: Lisa Ashley, Director, Corporate Communications
         Office: (713) 670-2644
         Cell: (832) 247-8179
         Email: lashley@poha.com

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