Engineering News

US Government Poised to Issue First Nationwide
Chemical Security Plan

Friday June 30, 12:24 pm ET

HOUSTON, Texas, June 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The US government will issue on Friday the first nationwide plan to secure chemical facilities and other critical infrastructure against terrorist attack, the chemical industry's real-time newswire ICIS news reported on Thursday.

ICIS news quoted Robert Stephan, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Department of Homeland Security, as saying the department has completed work on a comprehensive national infrastructure protection plan (NIPP) and will meet its end-of-June deadline for publication.

Prompted by the September 2001 terrorist attacks, the infrastructure protection plan is designed to assess the threat against and vulnerability of 17 major industries, including chemicals manufacturing. It also is designed to assess the possible consequences of a terrorist attack against key national resources such as pipelines, rail traffic, the electric power grid and others.

Speaking at the Chemical Security Summit in Baltimore, Stephan said the plan to be announced tomorrow "is the first national blueprint to secure this country from terrorist attacks."

"Whether we like it or not," Stephan said, "we are living in the 21st century threat and risk environment and we have to deal with it. There's no going back."

Stephan said the US is facing perhaps its most deadly adversary ever, noting that terrorists are more difficult to defend against because they are not "rational actors."

"With the exception of the Kamikaze pilots of Japan and SS Storm Troopers of Nazi Germany," Stephan said, "we have never had to face an enemy for whom life itself does not matter. This presents us with a tough situation."

Noting that the national infrastructure protection plan has been worked on with industry cooperation, including more than 10,000 comments from across industry, Stephan said the plan will not represent a heavy-handed government approach but rather will be co-operative.

"We do not want to get into a situation where 'we had to destroy the village in order to save it'," he said, referring to a Vietnam War era perception that government over-reaction is worse than the problem it sought to resolve.

He also endorsed pending legislation in Congress that will give the Department of Homeland security broad enforcement policy for chemical plant site security. He said a mandatory federal role is necessary because not all elements of the chemical sector or other industries have responded adequately to the security threat and consequently represent "a serious security gap" in the nation's defense.

The national infrastructure protection plan will be followed by the end of this year, Stephan said, by industry-specific plans that will detail how the protection plan is to be implemented at operational levels in each of the 17 key industries.

Co-sponsored by the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association and the American Chemistry Council, the fourth annual Chemical Security Summit runs through Friday this week.

Source: ICIS

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