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Dingell Calls on the Bush Administration to Submit Legislation to Address Vulnerability of Chemical Plants to Terrorist Attack


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It is an outrage that the Federal Government has no idea how vulnerable our chemical plants are to terrorist attack

Source: Committee on Energy and Commerce Democrats

Congressman John D. Dingell, Ranking Member
For Immediate Release
March 19, 2003

Contact: Laura Sheehan

Dingell Calls on the Bush Administration to Submit Legislation to Address Vulnerability of Chemical Plants to Terrorist Attack

Washington, D.C. – Congressman John D. Dingell, Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, today called on the Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Todd Whitman to heed the General Accounting Office’s (GAO) recommendation and develop a comprehensive national chemical security strategy. At Rep. Dingell and Frank Pallone’s, D-NJ, request, the GAO developed a report on the vulnerability of chemical sites to terrorist attacks which found: that no federal agency has assessed the extent of security preparedness of the chemical plants across the Nation; and, no federal requirements are in place to require chemical plants to assess their vulnerabilities and take steps to reduce them.


"It is an outrage that the Federal Government has no idea how vulnerable our chemical plants are to terrorist attack," Dingell said. "Since 9-11, Congress has passed sweeping legislation to protect our citizens but when it comes to cracking down on chemical manufacturers to ensure safety the Administration is more than lackadaisical, it is in defiance of public law."

Dingell has on two separate occasions sought to have Attorney General Ashcroft comply with public law and complete vulnerability assessments on chemical plants. For more than six months, and without justification, the Attorney General has failed to comply with this requirement that was intended to assist in protecting the public from terrorist attacks at chemical facilities or rail tank cars containing hazardous chemical substances.

While the chemical manufacturing industry has undertaken a number of voluntary initiatives to address security concerns, the efforts are not quantified and alone, as Ridge and Whitman note, not sufficient to assure public safety. The EPA reports that there are 123 chemical plants throughout the Nation that could each potentially endanger the lives and well being of more than one million people. About 600 facilities could each threaten 100,000 to a million people, and about 2,300 facilities could each threaten between 10,000 and 100,000 people in the vicinity.

The GAO report recommends that Secretary Ridge and Administrator Whitman jointly develop a comprehensive national security chemical strategy that is both practical and cost effective. More specifically the strategy should:

* identify high-risk facilities based on factors including the level of threat and collect information on industry security preparedness;

* specify the roles and responsibilities of each federal agency partnering with the chemical industry;

* develop appropriate information sharing mechanisms; and

* develop a legislative proposal, in consultation with industry and appropriate other groups, to require these chemical facilities to expeditiously assess their vulnerability to terrorist attacks and, where necessary, require these facilities to take corrective action.


"Secretary Ridge and Administrator Whitman should move with all due haste to carry out the GAO’s recommendations. I would not wish for the Administration to have to explain to grieving families why it failed to act decisively and swiftly to protect them and their loved ones," said Dingell.

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Michael R. Meuser
Data Research & GIS Specialist is an independent firm specializing in GIS project development and data research. We created the first U.S. based interactive toxic chemical facility maps on the internet in 1996 and we have been online ever since. Learn more about us and our services.

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