17 June 2003 18:01 [Source: ICIS news]
PHILADELPHIA (CNI)--Security concerns "must become an integral part" of every chemical manufacturer's daily business, a leading industry official said here Tuesday.
Joe Acker, president of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (Socma), told the first annual US Chemical Security Summit (CSS) here today that "Nearly two years after the tragic events of 11 September 2001, we remain in a state of heightened awareness."
The US chemicals industry, Acker said, is "fully aware of the potential risks posed by terrorist and criminal activity. The game has changed and we recognise that we have a responsibility and a duty to manage our products and our processes with this new awareness."
Acker noted that no US chemical facility has yet been the target of a terrorist attack, but he also observed that environmental activists and journalists have demonstrated their ability to freely walk onto or, worse still, drive a vehicle onto chemical plant facilities in multiple US cities. Those instances, he said, "should guide our thinking as we consider and address security issues at our sites."
Noting that "we can't dig moats around our plants," Acker urged the some 350 industry executives attending CSS to review their firms' own internal policies and procedures to ensure fundamental security measures are in place. He said such measures should at a minimum limit access of people and vehicles to sites, secure intellectual property and mandate background checks of employees.
He also urged site operators to meet personally with local and statewide police authorities. "Bringing law enforcement into the loop will help our employees better secure our facilities." And, "if something does happen, they can also help us preserve critical evidence." Meeting with state and local police authorities "also helps [them] refine their own response plan," he noted.
Acker said a company's own employees can be counted among a facility's best security assets. "If you have 100 employees who are observant and trained in handling suspicious or unfamiliar site visitors," he said, "you will have 100 of your best security guards."
"Employee awareness is our best defense," he added. "Tell your employees what to look for, how to deal with suppliers and how to spot the red flags. And have a policy in place for reporting problems as soon as they are identified."
Co-sponsored by SOCMA and the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the CSS runs through Thursday.
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