APRIL 05, 2007
More than five years after the deadliest attacks in United Sates history, thousands of the nation’s chemical plants are still at high risk of a terrorist attack and government officials are just now devising a plan to correct the severe problem.
The Department of Homeland Security has finally issued security regulations for the country’s 7,000 vulnerable facilities, which include about half of the nation’s chemical plants. Approximately 400 of the plants are considered to be high risk and of grave concern yet they have continued operating in those conditions for years.
Homeland Security officials claimed they discovered the major flaws after conducting investigations that included feedback from state and local authorities as well as the public and private industries. Some facilities have already taken security measures but much-needed uniform federal rules never existed.
Once the rule book is finalized sometime this month, the Department of Homeland Security will assign about 70 regulators to conduct audits and inspections. Plants that break the rules will be heavily fined or even shut down.
With repeated documentation over the years of how vulnerable chemical plants are to terrorist attacks, Americans must wonder why their government has taken so long to act. State and local authorities as well as the media have exposed the major security flaws since the September 2001 attacks.
In 2004, for instance, a television news show revealed how lawmakers enacted new laws to tighten security at airports and nuclear plants since the attacks yet neglected to do so for equally dangerous chemical plants. The segment visited dozens of chemical plants throughout the country – Los Angeles, New York and Houston among them–that had virtually no security and presented a huge danger to surrounding neighborhoods.
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