Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On has laid the foundation stone for a new $12.4 million container screening facility near the Haifa port, reports Yediot Haifa. Much as airport officials can screen suitcases to see what is inside without opening them, the new facility will enable Customs officials at the port to see what is inside fully-loaded shipping containers intended for import or export, without having to open them. According to the report, the new facility will be constructed in the Ophir Park, 500 meters from the gates to the port. Screening shipping containers without having to open and unload them, as occurs at present, is expected to save considerable time and money both for the companies involved and for Customs. A senior Customs official said the new facility would be able to detect weapons and drugs, as well as detecting commercial goods on which import or export fees should be paid. He said the facility, which is expected to begin operating in July 2009, would be able to examine two containers at a time and up to 24 containers per hour, resulting in a speedy and high-quality service. Out of the $12.4 million cost of the facility, the US government is reportedly paying $8 million as a donation.