February 23, 2006
Court challenges to DP World Newark takeover
Acting on behalf of New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine, state Attorney General Zulima V. Farber today filed suit in U.S. District Court seeking to block a United Arab Emirates company from managing operations at a major facility in the Port of Newark until the federal government undertakes a full and required investigation of the national security risks involved and turns over all information regarding the approval of Dubai Ports World to take over management of the port facility.
Tomorrow (Friday) the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey will bring suit to terminate its lease with Port Newark Container Terminal, a current operator at Port Newark. Under the terms of the lease, says the New Jersey Atorney General's office,the type of transaction engaged in with Dubai Ports World requires prior written approval from the Port Authority; none was sought and none was given. That lawsuit will be filed in Superior Court in Essex County.
The New Jersey Attorney general's office says that Dubai Ports World, which is owned by the UAE of Dubai, was given permission by the Bush administration's Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, to take over port operations after its purchase of a British-based company that now runs a facility at the Port of Newark.
The New Jersey suit seeks a full investigation of the sale and seeks all information regarding the sale and all security arrangements that federal officials say were attached to the sale. Until that information is provided, state officials say they cannot assess what steps are needed to fully protect the security of New Jersey residents and the port area. The suit says lack of such information interferes with the state's sovereignty and the state's homeland security responsibilities.
Gov. Corzine has a duty and responsibility to address all potential threats to the safety and well-being of the millions of residents in the states. The attorney general says the information sought is necessary to determine the extent to which additional resources may be needed to protect Port Newark, which is located in an area the FBI has described as the two most dangerous miles in the United States in terms of homeland security vulnerabilities. The area includes Newark Liberty International Airport, Port Newark, Port Elizabeth, commuter and freight rail lines and yards, chemical plants and oil storage facilities.
"We cannot tolerate any situation that heightens our vulnerability particularly in an area with chemical plants and other critical vulnerabilities that has been described as the most dangerous two miles in America,'' Governor Corzine said. "Turning port operations over to a company owned by a country that recognized the Taliban as a legitimate government goes beyond the realm of common sense.''
"The Port of Newark is one of the largest and most critical ports in our country,'' Attorney General Farber said. "To protect the port and to ensure that every possible measure is taken to ensure the safety of our people, we need to have all relevant information. We need to know the risks, threats, and vulnerabilities associated with the sale of port operations to Dubai Ports World. We cannot allow this sale to go forward without having that infonformation.''
The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Trenton, names the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States and committee members, including Treasury Secretary Jon Snow, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
The suit declares that the Committee on Foreign Investments failed to conduct a full investigation of the sale of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation (P & O) to Dubai Ports World as required by statute, and seeks the court to direct such an investigation.
In addition, the suit states that New Jersey's ability to fulfill its obligation to ensure adequate security at the Port of Newark is endangered by not knowing the information which was submitted to the Committee on Foreign Investments by Dubai and not knowing what assurances were made regarding security. Responding to a potential terrorist attack is a primary state and local responsibility.
The failure to provide that information interferes with the state's sovereign rights under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution, the suit declares.
The complaint was prepared by Assistant Attorneys General Patrick DeAlmeida and James H. Martin, and Deputy Attorneys General Jean Reilly and Melissa Raksa.