"A Decade After 9/11, Are Chemical Plants Still Vulnerable?"

After the 9/11 attacks, government and industry warned that chemical plants were a prime terrorist target that could kill thousands of Americans. They moved quickly to make it harder for the public to know how large a threat the plants posed to nearby communities. But a decade later, the nation has yet to adopt a comprehensive anti-terrorism program for chemical plants.

"After the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., a decade ago, the Kanawha Valley's chemical industry went on high alert.

Security guards made additional sweeps around plant fence-lines. Inspections of delivery trucks increased. Emergency boats patrolled the Kanawha River.

Chemical company officials warned that huge stockpiles of toxic chemicals were a likely target for further terror attacks.

Federal and state government officials responded by making information about such facilities -- what kinds of materials they store and in what quantities -- more difficult for the public to obtain. Secrecy was needed, industry and regulators agreed, to avoid giving terrorists roadmaps to attractive targets.

But 10 years later, the nation has yet to adopt a comprehensive anti-terrorism program for chemical plants, despite strong backing from environmental groups and labor organizations.

So far, Congress has passed only temporary legislation that leaves out what many plant safety advocates say is the most important piece of the puzzle: Forcing companies to use less-toxic materials that would not only be less appealing to terrorists but also be generally safer for workers, plant neighbors and the environment."

Ken Ward Jr. reports for the Charleston Gazette September 11, 2011.



Source: Charleston Gazette, 09/12/2011