Homeland Security: Federal Action Needed to Address Security Challenges at Chemical Facilities, Statement of John B. Stephenson, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, Testimony before the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations, Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives   [open pdf - 218KB]

The events of September 11, 2001, triggered a national re-examination of the security of thousands of industrial facilities that use or store hazardous chemicals in quantities that could potentially put large numbers of Americans at risk of serious injury or death in the event of a terrorist-caused chemical release. GAO was asked to examine (1) available information on the threats and risks from terrorism faced by U.S. chemical facilities; (2) federal requirements for security preparedness and safety at facilities; (3) actions taken by federal agencies to assess the vulnerability of the industry; and (4) voluntary actions the chemical industry has taken to address security preparedness, and the challenges it faces in protecting its assets and operations. GAO issued a report on this work in March 2003 (GAO-03-439). GAO's March 2003 report recommended that the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Administrator of EPA jointly develop a comprehensive national chemical security strategy that is both practical and cost effective, which includes assessing vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks and enhancing security preparedness. Legislation is now before Congress that, if enacted, would direct DHS, or DHS and EPA, to adopt most of GAO's March 2003 recommendations.

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