24 March 2002 22:24 [Source: ICIS news]
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (CNI)--US chemicals producers are committed to increased plant site safety in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks, but the new NPRA president said here Sunday that "we cannot eliminate risk entirely."
Bob Slaughter, installed Friday as president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), told a press conference that "you can’t eliminate risk entirely." Speaking about the risk to chemical production sites and their surrounding communities, Slaughter said: "If you do eliminate risk entirely, then the terrorists win because you will have shut down the US economy."
Slaughter was responding to questions about sentiment on Capitol Hill and among some community stakeholders that the only way to make chemical production sites safe from terrorist attack - say, by an aircraft being crashed into a plant by a suicide terrorist - is to render chemical processes completely safe and by eliminating the use of hazardous feedstocks production chemicals.
Slaughter said that "the American people are reasonable; they want due diligence and they want to know that everything that can be done to make our facilities safer is being done. And we’re doing that."
Eugene Allspach, president and chief operating officer of Equistar and chairman of the NPRA petrochemicals committee, said NPRA and its member firms "are committed to the safe production, storage and transportation of our products." But the industry has to demonstrate to the public, he said, "that we are capable and competent to do this."
Allspach said the industry is in an ongoing program to make chemical processes safer and he noted that it is very much in a producer’s own interest to have the greatest possible level of safety. "We are looking at ways to reduce the risks," he said. Allspach also said the industry is working with US authorities to establish a database that could be used to check prospective chemical plant employees against known terrorist suspects.
Duane Gilliam, executive vice president of Marathon Ashland Petroleum and the newly named chairman of NPRA, noted that chemicals producers are working to reduce access to plant sites and perimeters. He also reported that US military fighter aircraft continue air patrols over key US cities, industrial sites and approach routes to the US by air.
The NPRA press conference marked the opening day of NPRA’s 27th annual International Petrochemicals Conference (IPC). The conference runs through Tuesday.
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