Chemical industry report from the GAO
| 03.01.2006 | 08:56:23 | Views: 2309 | ID:
March 1 '06: A report finished in January but released on Monday by the Government Accountability Office has found the US chemical industry vulnerable to terrorist attacks while the industry has done little to improve the security status of its plants, Marketwatch reported this week.
According to the government agency, "The nation's chemical facilities pose significant risks and the extent of their security preparedness is largely unknown." The GAO also called on Congress to help secure the country's chemical plants which number close to 15,000, Marketwatch continued.The report released to the general public Monday follows a similar report released in 2003 when the GAO "reached similar conclusions ... that called for Congress to give the Homeland Security Department the authority and responsibility to guard against a terrorist attack," Marketwatch reported. Since the earlier report, Congress has not acted on the recommendations: "No one has yet comprehensively assessed security at the nation's chemical facilities," the GAO reported read. The report is entitled "DHS Is Taking Steps to Enhance Security at Chemical Facilities, but Additional Authority Is Needed." According to the report, in the US, DHS has found that there are "3,400 facilities that, if attacked, could pose the greatest hazard to human life and health and has initiated programs to assist the industry and local communities in protecting chemical facilities." Existing laws have given limited scope with which the department can regulate and monitor security, the report said. In effect, "DHS does not have the authority to require chemical facilities to assess their vulnerabilities and implement security measures. Therefore, DHS cannot ensure that facilities are taking these actions." Marketwatch reported, "The GAO also urged Homeland Security to quickly complete its chemical sector-specific plan quickly and to study the advantages of substituting safer chemicals and processes."
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