The Coast Guard inspects cargoes and containers for compliance with the Federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Law (FHMTL), 49 U.S.C. 5101-5127, and the International Safe Container Act of 1977 (ISCA), 46 U.S.C. 80501-80509. Regulations implementing the FHMTL are codified in 49 CFR 107-180. Regulations implementing the ISCA can be found in 49 CFR 450-453. Additionally, the Coast Guard inspects containers of general cargo to ensure hazardous materials are not being shipped illegally. This is generally referred to as undeclared hazardous materials. Undeclared hazardous material shipments are a leading cause of transportation incidents.
In addition to performing regular inspections, the Coast Guard also hosts Multi-Agency Strike Force Operations, or MASFOs. A MASFO is a surge enforcement activity involving multiple agencies with varying jurisdictions, authorities and resources. MASFOs prompt interagency cooperation and information sharing that synergistically enhances each agency’s safety and security missions.Further information regarding container inspection activities at specific ports can be obtained by contacting the local Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP). A listing of COTP offices can be found at www.uscg.mil.