Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Report: US Chemical Facility Vulnerability

Chemical facilities in the United States, whether storage or manufacturing facilities, are attractive terrorist targets. An attack on one or more carefully selected facilities could create a public health emergency of incredible proportions.

On December 3, 1984, nearly 3,000 people died within days when methyl isocyanate gas accidentally escaped from a Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) plant in Bhopal, India. Subsequently, it was estimated that in excess of 20,000 people died from the residual effects of the release. An account of the Bhopal incident is available from BBC online. Though this was an accidental release, it demonstrates the short- and long-term effects possible when chemical facilities leak.

On Wednesday, April 27, 2005, the US Government Accountablity Office (GAO) released the testimony of John B. Stephenson, Director of the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Natural Resources and Environment. His testimony was presented before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the US Senate. This testimony is based on GAO's past work on chemical facility security and focuses on:
  • The attractiveness of US chemical facilities as terrorist targets
  • Their diversity and risks
  • Federal security requirements for these facilities
  • Federal and industry efforts to improve facility security


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