"Facilities handling large amounts of potentially hazardous chemicals (i.e., chemical facilities) might be of interest to terrorists, either as targets for direct attacks meant to release chemicals into the community or as a source of chemicals for use elsewhere. 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 the 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 federal laws require planning to protect the general public from accidental releases of hazardous chemicals, but neither law explicitly addresses terrorism. After 9/11, Congress enacted legislation that requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to analyze vulnerabilities and suggest security enhancements for 'critical infrastructure.' The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-188) and the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA, P.L. 107-295) require vulnerability assessments and emergency response plans for some chemical facilities that supply drinking water or are located in ports, as well as security plans for chemical facilities in ports. Many other chemical facilities, including wastewater treatment facilities, remain unregulated."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31530