26 March 2002 21:43 [Source: ICIS news]
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (CI)--The US chemical industry has to ensure that momentum is maintained as it draws up plans to counter the threat of terrorist attacks on its plants and transport links. The industry has been one of the most proactive in terms of ‘homeland defence’, making early, top level, government contacts post the 11 September terrorist attacks. It has quickly pushed on to address issues that affect individual producers and their sites.
Led to a great extent by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) but also by other trade associations and senior industry executives, the sector has drawn up a new safety and security code for chemical plants, the ‘Chemical industry security strategy’ (CISS). The industry needs now to develop this widespread programme beyond the initial stages and work effectively with government and government agencies to make sure that effort is not duplicated or unnecessarily dissipated. The industry has to have government agencies like the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the DoE (Department of Energy) on its side. It also has to be a strong advocate for its own efforts. Building public trust in just what it is the industry is doing to protect against terrorist attacks is crucial.
Chemical companies have to prove individually and collectively that they are capable of providing security. There is great concern in the US that the chemical industry is vulnerable to attack and further disclosures of that vulnerability can be expected. Ultimately, however, each facility will have to make its own security arrangements and establish robust third party verification procedures, most probably with local police departments. Security strategy must be measurable and promoted actively to the community so that security gains can be recognised.
The International Petrochemicals Conference (IPC) provided a forum here on Tuesday for discussion of the progress that can and is being made. The ACC will sanction the new security strategy, which will be a new code as part of Responsible Care, Russ Crockett, vice president for Responsible Care and engineering at Lyondell Chemical said. It will be launched in June. Programmes have been drawn up to make individual site vulnerability assessments under the new code and then to develop security programmes that can be locally, and independently, verified.
Former head of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and security adviser to six presidents, Robert Gates, spoke to industry representatives in October shortly after the terrorist attacks on the US mainland US and at this week's IPC. He stressed on both occasions the need for industry to be represented at the highest government levels and to be proactive in drawing up security plans and in working closely with government agencies. He suggested to his IPC audience that their companies should dust off Y2K plans and identify where they are most vulnerable. They should also open up dialogue with government agencies such as the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and CIA to gain some access to early warning systems.
Apart from giving sound anti-terrorist advice, Gates made the valid point that without active engagement with the federal government industries will either do the wrong thing or be subject to new laws which could become increasingly burdensome.
A critical task for the chemical industry as it works to establish the CISS is to coordinate effort and make sure that the different trade associations and agencies are doing the same things and moving in the right direction. The industry has to prove to government and the US public that it is capable of providing security effectively.
The IPC, which is sponsored by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), concludes here today.
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