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Chemical Plants Increase Security Measures, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that there are at least 110 American chemical plants that could subject a minimum of 1 million people in surrounding areas to clouds of toxic gas if attacked.  Terrorism experts point to a two-mile industrial corridor in northern New Jersey where a chemical plant that processes chlorine gas is an ideal terrorist target due to its position on the very doorstep of Manhattan, where 12 million people live within a 14-mile radius of the plant.  Along the same corridor lie dozens of vulnerable sites including oil storage tanks, refineries, pipelines, ports, rail lines and highways.
The chemicals industry’s response to the need for heightened security was to create a voluntary program, under which efforts including the installation of security cameras, fences and other barriers would be instituted.  The American Chemistry Council (ACC) developed a Responsible Care Security Code, which addresses site, transportation and cyber security issues.  More than 500 chemical companies in 68 countries are taking part in Responsible Care.  The ACC reports that its membership has invested more than $14 billion in security enhancements since the September 11th attacks in 2001.
The Department of Homeland Security also established the Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Standard (CFATS), imposing a lengthy set of federal security regulations for high-risk chemical facilities.  The CFATS requires all chemical plants in the U.S. to adhere to federally mandated security efforts such as the preparation of emergency security plans, installing fencing and security cameras and requiring identification cards for plant access.  Where voluntary participation was called for in the past, the current rules stipulate mandatory compliance.  The Department of Homeland Security now requires an estimated 300 to 400 of the most vulnerable plants to produce more detailed studies and plans that adhere to the new security rules.  Environmentalists are against the bill, calling instead for plants to abandon the production and use of many toxic chemicals and replace them with greener alternatives.  In July 2019, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced the implementation of the CFATS Personnel Surety Program (PSP) at all covered high-risk chemical facilities, including Tier 3 and Tier 4 facilities.
Watch for further debate about the rules and security concerns at additional facilities where chemicals can be found such as seaports and rail yards.  Meanwhile, security costs for chemical plant operators are going to go up substantially, and a new business opportunity exists for technology companies that can provide better, more efficient methods for monitoring plants and personnel.


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