Chemical Plant Security [Updated October 22, 2004]   [open pdf - 196KB]

"Chemical facilities might be vulnerable to direct attacks by terrorists or efforts to gain access to potentially dangerous chemicals. Because few terrorist attacks have been attempted against chemical facilities in the United States, the risk of death and injury in the near future is estimated to be low, relative to the likelihood of accidents at such facilities or attacks on other targets using conventional weapons. For any individual facility, the risk is very small, but risks may be increasing with potentially severe consequences for human health and the environment. Available evidence indicates that many chemical facilities may lack adequate safeguards. Two environmental laws require chemical facility planning to protect the general public from accidental releases of hazardous chemicals. The laws mandate public disclosure of hazards in order to stimulate public interest in planning. However, neither law addresses terrorism. Congress might rely on existing efforts in the public and private sectors to improve chemical site security, while waiting for better information about the potential harm from terrorist attacks. Alternatively, Congress could encourage the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to expand existing planning requirements to consider terrorism, or authorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to oversee security at potentially dangerous facilities."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL31530
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