Chemical facilities might be vulnerable to direct attacks by terrorists or covert use of business contacts, facilities, and materials to gain access to potentially dangerous chemicals. Because few terrorist attacks have been attempted on U.S. chemical facilities, the estimated risk of death and injury in the near future is low, but risks may be increasing, as available evidence indicates that many facilities may lack adequate safeguards. EPA authority and the ability of existing legislation to regulate in this area is unclear (Public Law 107-296, establishing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), does not address chemical plant security directly), therefore Congress might rely on existing mechanisms in the public and private sectors to evaluate and improve chemical site security, while waiting for better information about the potential harm from terrorist attacks on chemical facilities. Policy makers face at least three key issues: the effect of public disclosure; the relative importance of diverse risks; and who should be responsible for achieving results.
CRS Report for Congress, RL31530