11 April 2005 23:01 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--US chemical companies have told Congressional investigators that they are having difficulty in improving anti-terrorism measures at their plant sites due to government permit delays and poor cooperation from railroads and contractors.
In a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), chemical plant operators are quoted as saying “that they experienced difficulties in obtaining permits or approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers to install fences to better protect the perimeter of their chemicals facilities.” The GAO is the investigative arm of the US Congress.
The GAO report, “Protection of Chemical and Water Infrastructure,” said: “Officials at one facility stated that they did not obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to install a fence on wetlands in a timely manner, while officials at another chemical facility said that they moved the planned location of their fence line rather than go through a permitting process.”
“Officials representing a third chemical facility,” said the GAO study, “told us that they moved their fence line because the Corps of Engineers refused to allow them to install fences on the Corps-managed property.”
In addition to responsibility for military construction, the US Army Corps of Engineers has roles in maintaining navigable waterways, flood control structures and protection of wetlands.
The GAO also reported that chemical companies “said they were experiencing continuing difficulties in gaining cooperation from railroads to maintain security when railroad personnel made deliveries or picked up products from the chemical facilities’ premises.”
In addition, chemical company officials also stated that “they were challenged in obtaining contractors, such as crews hired to perform major system maintenance in the facilities, with an appropriate level of background screening.”
The GAO report concludes that “few federal requirements address security in the chemical and water sectors,” although the federal government has “provided financial and other types of assistance to help these sectors implement security improvements.”
The GAO report comes as Congress is set to consider new legislation regarding chemical plant site security issues and the security and safety of rail transit of chemical cargoes.
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