Customs Inspection Changes Could Hurt Red Hook Shipping

Area politicians warn that changes in customs inspections could decimate the shipping industry in Red Hook.

Under the proposal, U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspections would end in Brooklyn. Currently, Customs inspectors flag one in ten shipments coming into the Red Hook waterfront for a mandatory inspection. With inspectors are gone, shippers would have to truck their goods to examination stations located in Staten Island or New Jersey.

Representative Michael G. Grimm and Representative Peter T. King argue that transporting goods over roadways would deter shippers from using the port at Red Hook and abandon it for ports elsewhere.

Grimm said that would cause a loss in high-quality jobs on the Red Hook waterfront and lost revenue for every small business around it, which affects all of New York City.

“All those mom and pops, they rely on this business every day to keep their doors open,” Grimm said. “So, in a tough economy the last thing we want to do is stop one of the economic engines for Brooklyn.”

Grimm added if shippers continued to use the port, it would add 3,700 trucks on roadways over the Gowanus Canal and the Verrazano Bridge, and their cargo would be traveling unchecked through the city. 

Customs officials had planned to remove inspectors from Red Hook on January 9. The congressmen raised their concerns with the U.S. Customs office and won a 90-day delay for the move.

In a statement, the U.S. Customs office said the changes were intended to consolidate operations and save on federal spending. The decision came from a working group, which included trade stakeholders, that was tasked by the federal government to find ways to improve productivity.