How do CEFs work?

How are containers selected?

Cargo Reports are lodged electronically before a vessel’s arrival. All Cargo Reports are screened and risk assessed. Selections for examination are made on the basis of these assessments.

Container Terminal Operator 

The Australian Border Force (ABF) places a hold on selected cargo and notifies the Container Terminal Operator (CTO) that the container is required at the cargo and container examination facility (CEF). The CTO and an Australian Border Force contracted road transport service transfers the selected container to the CEF.

What is the procedure when a container is selected for examination?

At the four major CEFs, the truck drives into the x-ray hall and the container is scanned while still on the truck. X-ray inspection, including analysis, takes approximately 15 minutes. The majority of sea cargo containers are processed and returned to the wharf within 30 minutes.

If the x-ray image reveals that further investigation is required, the container is unloaded for detailed physical examination. At smaller CEFs, all containers are unloaded for physical examination. Unloaded containers are tested for fumigants and are de-fumigated where required. Under Australian Border Force supervision, contracted labour unpacks and repacks containers requiring examination.

What technology and other resources are used at CEFs?

Each Container Examination Facility holds an International Standards Organization Quality Management System accreditation (ISO 9001:2008).
Container Examination Facilities use container x-ray systems that are capable of scanning a 40 foot container in less than two minutes. The smaller CEFs use pallet and/or cabinet x-ray systems to x-ray goods.
Australian Border Force x-ray systems leave no residual radiation, and have no effect on food, film or other sensitive goods.
The x-ray systems meet the stringent radiation safety standards imposed by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.
The CEFs also use other Australian Border Force resources, including cabinet x-ray technology, drug detector dogs and trace-particle detection (ionscan and chemical detectors) technology. The CEFs are interlinked with other Australian Border Force processes including intelligence-driven risk-assessment, commercial compliance activity, and better evaluation processes to determine the integrity of import and export data.

Will examined goods be adversely affected by x-ray?

No. As outlined above, The Australian Border Force has undertaken extensive work to ensure safe operation of the x-ray.

How long does an examination take?

Container Terminal Operator 

The x-ray inspection of the container, including the analysis of the image by trained image-inspection officers, can take up to 30 minutes. If the image reveals that a further inspection is required, the container will be unloaded at the facility for a detailed physical examination. The length of time required for this examination will vary according to the type of cargo; type of examination required; and other factors, for example whether the container has to be defumigated

What happens after a container is x-rayed?

After x-ray scan and image inspection, most containers are given immediate clearance and returned to the wharf. If an anomaly is detected in a container, it is detained for a more detailed physical examination. Of the containers x-rayed daily, approximately 10 per cent are selected for further physical examination.