Bull’s-Eye in Your Backyard: Chemical Plant Security 2010
by Guest Blogger
July 26, 2010
Friends at Greenpeace asked me to visit Washington this week to meet with some key Senators who will be voting soon on chemical plant security.
While admittedly only one on a list of many potential terrorist targets across this country, chemical plants must be given greater attention since from a terrorist’s perspective chemical plants offer a maximum kill rate for a minimal effort. Studies have shown that just one chemical facility can place up to a million people at risk.
The facts illustrate that virtually every major populated area has one or more of the 5,000 most lethal, "high-risk"chemical facilities. Sadly, many of these facilities suffer from lax oversight, poor perimeter security, and vulnerable operating technologies.
Such facilities are open to: aerial attack (a terrorist flying a small, private plane into the facility); cyber-attack (a terrorist logging in and overtaking an operating system from a net café half way around the world); internal attack (a disgruntled employee deciding to push a button); and/or mere human error (BP’s Deep Horizon oil spill proves that catastrophic accidents can and do happen).
Short of handing out HAZMAT suits and masks to every individual living within the zone of danger, there are other feasible ways to make such lethal facilities safer. One simple way is to use smart security. Smart security essentially means substituting the lethal variety of a chemical with a non-lethal alternative so that if an accidental release occurs nobody dies. Here is a list of 500+ success stories.
Admittedly, using such alternatives will initially create a nominal cost increase to the chemical company but perhaps, more importantly, smart security means no dead people for the surrounding community. Seems like a no-brainer, right?
Nope, it’s not because for some in Washington it remains business as usual.
Kristen Breitweiser, 9/11 widow and activist, is known for pressuring official Washington to provide a public accounting to the American people of what went wrong on the morning of September 11 and in the months leading up to the disaster that claimed the life of her husband and more than 3000 others.