29 June 2009 19:57 [Source: ICIS news]
BALTIMORE, Maryland (ICIS news)--US chemical plants remain targets of interest to foreign and domestic terrorists seeking a dramatic attack that could cause mass casualties and major economic impact, a top US government analyst said on Monday.
Dan Cooler, a senior analyst in the office of intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told a chemical sector audience that the nation’s process industry “remains vulnerable to terrorist attacks, and that is an unacceptable level of risk”.
Speaking at the 2009 Chemical Security Summit (CSS), Cooler said that while the department and other ?xml:namespace>
“Terrorists are interested in any potential target that could, if attacked, produce visually dramatic results, broad economic impact and mass casualties,” Cooler said.
“An attack on a major
He said his department is concerned that the type of attacks successfully conducted by Al Qaeda and others in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia, Libya and Morocco might be employed by home-grown terrorist cells in the US and that foreign terrorists might successfully infiltrate the US.
The trend seen in terrorist attacks overseas would likely be repeated in any attempt on a
Cooler lauded the
However, he said more work remains to be done to further protect US chemical facilities from terrorist attack.
“While we have no known threat to the
“There remains a level of vulnerability that represents an unacceptable level of risk,” he said.
He said the department also remains concerned about possible theft or diversion of bulk chemicals that could be weaponised by terrorists for an attack.
“We remain concerned about diversion threats,” Cooler said. “It has not happened yet, but it is something that keeps us up at night.”
The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for enforcing the existing Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), which give the department authority over security measures at some 7,000 US chemical sites deemed to be at high risk for terrorist attack. Congress is considering tougher site security legislation for 2010.
Cooler spoke at the opening session of the three-day Chemical Security Summit, which is co-sponsored by the department and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA).
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