NPRA '02: Industry should avoid checklists for terror

26 March 2002 17:23  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (CNI)--The US petrochemical industry must avoid "road exercises and checklists that breed complacency and overconfidence" in bolstering their facilities from terrorist threats, former US intelligence chief Robert Gates said here Tuesday.

In a presentation to the 27th annual International Petrochemicals Conference (IPC), Gates repeated advice offered last October to the industry in an address that ended the annual meeting of the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

Gates expanded on his remarks from last October to the ACC – a talk presented little more than a month after the 11 September terrorist attacks. But he repeated the theme of that ACC session, telling the IPC audience today that the petrochemical industry cannot wait for government to act in its interests.

He outlined three specific areas of action for the industry and emphasised the need for companies to focus on their own security as a top priority. In addition, he said the industry should open all possible avenues of dialogue with security agencies for the sharing of information.

Gates also urged the industry to create a special group of petrochemical experts for meetings with government officials to ensure that the government understands clearly the industry’s vulnerabilities.

Regarding their own operations Gates said: "The key is to identify those parts of your businesses with the biggest impact if sabotage occurs."

Once identified, he said companies could take action to strengthen or monitor their defences in those areas.

He encouraged the industry to test those defences with surprise drills rather than creating checklists or standard exercises that would leave them complacent.

Once again, Gates said the industry must recognise that the federal government is unprepared for homeland security to the degree required in the wake of the 11 September attacks.

He said: "You should form a small working group of the best minds in your industry to prepare a paper."

Gates said the group should describe what the industry has done and develop clear suggestions for places needing help from the government.

In addition, he said the industry should dispatch a contingent of chief executives to Washington, DC to meet with government leaders before the government develops its own campaign that creates more problems than it solves.

Gates said: "You don’t want the government to come to you. Without your help, they will do the wrong thing or subject you to layers of bureaucracy."

Sponsored by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), the IPC concludes with a focus today on future challenges for the industry and a supply chain forum.

By: Gary Taylor
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