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Chemical Security Process Unveiled

June 17, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice Department recommended a 12-step analysis and risk-reduction process Monday to improve security for the 15,000 chemical, water and wastewater treatment plants in the United States.

Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels called it ``a critically valuable tool that industry can use to help protect chemical plants against possible terrorist activity.″

The program was developed by the Justice Department’s research and development agency and the Department of Energy-controlled Sandia National Laboratories.

The agencies said they focused on trying to prevent terror, criminal activities of a national scope or hazardous chemical releases that could shut down a facility or harm employees and nearby residents.

The program involves definition and assessment of threats to a facility, then determining the priority in which they should be dealt with. After several intermediary steps, sites are to compile risk analyses and ways to reduce risks, then draft a final report.

Environmentalists were skeptical.

``A methodology from the Justice Department isn’t enough to protect Americans,″ said Jeremiah Baumann, an environmental health specialist for the Public Interest Research Group. ``What we need is for the government to actually require safety improvements at chemical plants.″

The Bush administration plans to require facilities to assess their vulnerability to terrorists, then fix any problems. The terrorism assessments would be similar to risk-management plans the Environmental Protection Agency already requires from the facilities for accidental releases of toxins.

Requiring such improvements could be done through EPA rule-making or an act of Congress.


On the Net: EPA Risk Management Program: http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/acc-pre.html

Justice Department: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/195171.htm

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