Chemical plant security focus from DHS
| 03.21.2006 | 09:39:40 | Views: 2927 | ID:
March 21 '06: Amid fears that lax security oversight surrounding the nation's chemical plants will allow for an opportunity for a terrorist attack, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Monday the chemical industry needs to eliminate "free riders" - chemical plants who are "counting on the fact that the industry in general has a good level of investment (in security), and they figure they'll hide among the leaves and essentially freeload on this security work done by others," the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Chertoff continued, "We ought to say to the industry, 'Look, here's where we need to go. ... Now there are a lot of different roads to get there. And you can choose the road that best fits your particular kind of chemical, or your particular type of operation. We're not going to micromanage. What we do insist, though, is that you get to the place you need to be."Increasingly, the AP found, lawmakers and terrorism experts say the prime target in the US for another terrorist attack are chemical plants - one reason being that many of the plants are near large communities and that the federal government has traditionally allowed the industry to self-regulate. Currently, there is legislation waiting for Congressional approval to allow "Homeland Security to shut down facilities that do not comply with minimum safety standards," the AP reported but "Congressional staffers said ... [the plan] likely would not encourage facilities to substitute safe substances for hazardous chemicals." But Chris VandenHeuvel, spokesman for the American Chemistry Council told the AP, DHS "wants and deserves authority to set federal standards for chemical security, and then enforce those standards, " however four and a half years "after 9/11, they still don't have that."
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