An environmental group and a New Jersey congressman called on the chemical industry March 7 to do more to protect factories and neighboring communities from terrorist attacks.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said the industry should find substitutes for particularly hazardous chemicals, like chlorine, and store smaller amounts of such chemicals. That will reduce the harm that could come from successful terrorist attacks, U.S. PIRG said.
``I don't think we can rely only on improved physical security,'' Pallone said at a news conference. ``We have to plan as though a terrorist could breach such security.''
U.S. PIRG released a report that covered other industries besides chemicals, and estimates that 125 facilities around the country each could put 1 million people at risk if terrorists blew them up. An additional 3,000 plants each could put more than 10,000 people at risk.
Pallone is sponsoring legislation to have the federal government identify the highest-risk factories, and he has asked the General Accounting Office to investigate the chemical industry's preparedness.
An American Chemistry Council spokeswoman said the industry is always looking to enhance safety, reduce inventory and improve its manufacturing processes to reduce risk. ``They have done it where they can but there are always trade-offs,'' ACC said. Arlington-based ACC also recently released tougher security mandates for its members.