Portal port gets new cargo X-ray system

New technology to secure the border between the U.S. and Canada has been deployed.
Upgraded X-ray machines are now being used to inspect trucks entering America.

“This is the old machine – that is the new machine…” 

There are two X-ray machines in this space at the entrance to the United States at Portal. 

Brent Beeter, Portal Port Director, said “It’s going to take probably 15-20 seconds for it to go through the machine, and then we make the determination based on our scan to release it or send it in for further exam.”

It’s the kind of inspection you’d probably expect to be done to many of the hundreds of trucks crossing the border here. And while it’s new to North Dakota, it’s not really new.

“We’ve been running these machines that do the drivers and that on the southwest border since 2012,” Beeter explained. “So we’re just finally catching up to some of the technology they’ve had down south, coming up to the northern border.”


The new system from a company called “Rapiscan,” expands the reach of the X-ray view beyond the cargo area.

“This gives us the ability to do the cab as well. So we can do the cab and the trailers themselves right now where we weren’t able to do that prior,” said Beeter.

The ability to scan the cab of the truck has caused some concerns. I talked with one truck driver who didn’t want to be on camera who told me he was worried about potential health risks. In addition, some Customs and Border Patrol agents in the south have voiced worries at being around the equipment for long periods. But Beeter says CBP has been thorough in assuring everyone’s safety.

“We have radiation experts come in, industrial hygienists, to make sure these are set up so they’re safe for the public and for our officers.”

Materials provided by CBP say it would take more than one hundred thousand trips through the new scanner to equal the radiation absorbed by a person smoking a pack of cigarettes per day for one year. And Beeter says the new X-ray system allows a higher level of security for the nation with just a momentary delay for the truckers moving across the border.

The X-ray inspections are not done on passenger vehicles entering the United States – only on selected trucks that agents identify as needing further inspection.

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