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Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure: Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities 6 Science and Technology Investment to Protect the Nation’s Chemical Infrastructure: Findings and Recommendations In any complex undertaking there is no such thing as zero vulnerability, but vulnerabilities can always be reduced—often at increasing incremental cost. Thus, any action must balance the cost of reducing vulnerabilities against the potential benefits from this action. The chemical infrastructure is a vast and complex interdependent system. By its very nature this industry will always include an element of vulnerability because it regularly produces, uses, and transports hazardous materials. The current system of safety and security in the chemical sector has evolved through a multitude of stages of rebalancing risks as new knowledge is gained and as situations evolve. The findings and recommendations in this chapter are intended to provide guidance and rationale for effective research and development investments that offer the best short- and long-term promise for mitigating the vulnerabilities presented to the nation by potential terrorist attack on the chemical infrastructure. The major findings and recommendations in this report address the vulnerabilities associated with the chemical infrastructure in general. Other government and private sector efforts are developing site-specific vulnerability assessments and risk assessments that account for site-specific factors (such as the amount of chemical on a site, size of potentially affected population at a site, etc.) that might point to where the findings and recommendations of this report should be most rapidly implemented. Responding to risk and addressing vulnerabilities is an ongoing process that must be calibrated to the evolving nature of the industry and the
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Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure: Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities threats to its safe operation. The actions outlined in this chapter are those most appropriate at this time. The framework and methodology to address vulnerabilities presented in the earlier chapters offer an ongoing means by which new actions can be identified and taken over time. MAJOR FINDINGS Toxic, flammable, and explosive materials present the greatest risk of catastrophic incident. In the absence of specific threat information, it will be most appropriate to invest in mitigation and preparedness for general classes of vulnerabilities. Absent any specific intelligence information, among chemicals having toxic, explosive, or flammable properties, analysis indicated little benefit in differentiating one specific chemical from another for the purposes of determining research and development needs for securing the chemical infrastructure. Using the example of highly toxic chemicals, consequences of a release depend on so many event-specific variables that it is possible that a release of one toxic material could actually lead to more casualties than a similar-sized release of another more toxic material under different circumstances. Furthermore, measures can be taken to mitigate the potential for and consequences of any large volume toxic release. During the analysis of the chemical categories listed in Chapter 3, it was determined that by focusing on general classes of vulnerabilities (i.e., chemical properties) within chemical categories, instead of on specific chemicals, more appropriate guidance for science and technology investments could be given. By analogy with past accidents involving the chemical industry, it is possible that a single terrorist incident involving the chemical infrastructure could result in catastrophic loss of life or injuries. This report adopts the definition of catastrophic incident outlined in the Department of Homeland Security’s National Response Plan—one that “results in large numbers of casualties and/or displaced persons, possibly in the tens of thousands.” In part due to lack of access to the results of off-site consequence models, this report discusses scenarios based on historical chemical incidents that serve as existence proofs (but not necessarily upper bounds) for the possible consequences. Using this approach it is easy to determine that a single chemical event could cause catastrophic casualties. For example, approximately 4,000 people died in the immediate aftermath
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Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure: Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities of the methyl isocyanate gas leak from the Union Carbide India Limited Bhopal plant in December 1984.1 Injuries have been estimated to range from 200,000 to 500,000 and contributed to an accumulation of 15,000 to 20,000 disaster-related deaths in subsequent years, based upon elevated mortality rates among those hundreds of thousands of injured people.2 In this country, an explosion involving 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate in a Liberty ship at a loading dock in Texas City, Texas, on April 16, 1947 cascaded into widespread destruction of nearby petroleum refineries, chemical production facilities, and another fertilizer Liberty ship ultimately claiming nearly 600 lives and causing approximately 3,500 injuries—America’s worst chemical catastrophe.3 On September 21, 2001, a huge explosion tore through the AZF (Azote de France) fertilizer factory in Toulouse, France when nearly 400 tons of ammonium nitrate detonated causing extensive physical damage including a 50-meter-wide, 10-meter-deep crater; 500 uninhabitable homes; and more than 27,000 damaged buildings.4 Casualties from this incident include the loss of 30 lives and approximately 10,000 injuries, and resulted in the medical treatment of more than 14,000 persons for posttraumatic stress. The economic effects of a single terrorist incident involving the chemical infrastructure could be significant, but multiple terrorist events would be required to achieve nationally catastrophic economic consequences. 1 Precise numbers of dead and injured are unknown. The approximation of 4,000 dead was made in 1999. Other estimates include 30,000 permanently or totally disabled, 20,000 temporary cases, and 50,000 minor injuries. Frank Lees. 1996. Loss Prevention in the Process Industries 3:A5.1-A5.11. 2 Dhara, V. R., and R. Dhara. 2002. The Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal: A review of health effects. Archives of Environmental Health 57(5):391-404. 3 See the following references for more information: (a) Minituglia, Bill. 2003. City on Fire: The Forgotten Disaster that Devastated a Town and Launched a Landmark Legal Battle. New York: HarperCollins Press; (b) Stephens, Hugh W. 1996. The Texas City Disaster, 1947. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press; (c) http://www.chron.com/content/chronicle/metropolitan/txcity/; (d) http://sdsd.essortment.com/texascityexplo_rkvi.htm. 4 For more information about the Toulouse incident see the following references: (a) Dechy, N., T. Bourdeaux, N. Ayrault, M-A. Kordek, and J-C. Le Coze. 2004. First lessons of the Toulouse ammonium nitrate disaster, 21st September 2001, AZF plant, France. Journal of Hazardous Materials 111:131-138; (b) Dechy, N. and Y. Mouilleau. 2004. Damages of the Toulouse disaster, 21st September 2001. In Loss Prevention and Safety Promotion in the Process Industries, 11th International Symposium, Prague; (c) http://www.uneptie.org/pc/apell/disasters/toulouse/home.html; (d) http://www.environmenttimes.net/article.cfm?pageID=131; (e) http://www.icem.org/update/upd2001/upd01-68.html.
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Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure: Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities The chemical industry is quite diverse, with redundancies that mitigate the effects of loss of production due to major shutdowns. Where stockpiles do not exist, market forces quickly compensate for loss of production by increased production at another facility of the same or a different company, or by temporary substitution in industrial processes of another chemical with similar properties. Although a single incident might not result in a nationally catastrophic economic loss, such an incident could result in changes to business and manufacturing processes across the industry, either voluntarily or through regulation. The costs associated with such changes could be significant to individual companies and to local economies, but will not have a major impact on the national economy. Multiple attacks on the chemical infrastructure may not be immediately recognized as such. Prompt recognition and communication that an incident is an actual case of terrorism and may be part of a series of attacks offers the best opportunity to take actions that may limit the consequences of such attacks. Recognizing that an attack is part of a larger coordinated effort may be hampered if incidents are widely dispersed, involve different types of attacks, or otherwise present challenges to recognizing a larger pattern, particularly if communication between affected parties is significantly impeded. Therefore, rapid analysis and communication is needed so that heightened surveillance could prevent attacks at subsequent locations. Public response is significant in determining the consequences of attack on the chemical infrastructure. Public response to any act of terrorism in this country involving the chemical infrastructure will undoubtedly be significant and could invoke both positive and negative consequences. While the impact of a terrorist incident in itself may be linear (that is, the loss of life and injury will be related directly to the size of a chemical release within a given category of chemicals), there may be significant nonlinear social consequences of the incident. These consequences could significantly affect sectors of the economy, such as the negative impact on the travel and airline industries after September 11th. It may also impact public morale, affect the level of trust and confidence in the government’s ability to protect its citizens, and exacerbate feelings of vulnerability leading to social (sociological) and psy-
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Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure: Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities chological effects. Conversely, a well-informed general population that is adequately prepared for such events could decrease negative consequences and unnecessary casualties. Accurate information analysis and communication before, during, and after an event between parties responsible for response and to the public may be the best short-term means to mitigate the possible consequences of an event. The scenarios discussed in Chapter 4 demonstrate the importance of communication in determining the outcomes from any disruption of the chemical infrastructure. Chapter 5 points to the importance of communication in both pre-impact hazard management and emergency response and recovery. Effective communication response consists of several components: Acquiring reliable data—In an emergency, this includes reducing data errors and ambiguity to the greatest extent possible; Converting the data into integrated information and conclusions; Deciding on and communicating appropriate actions; and Communicating promptly to the public in an accurate, comprehensible, and believable fashion. The perception of disasters sometimes escalates as a consequence of a breakdown in the communication process. Conversely, a well-informed public can often take action to minimize the effects of a disaster. Information must reach the end users in a comprehensible and useful form; it must be perceived by them as relevant to their situation (e.g., individuals need to be made aware and recognize their hazard risk and potential outcomes); end users must have the capacity and the necessary resources to use this information to better prepare, respond to, and recover from a hazard or disaster situation.5 Near-term benefits can be obtained from research efforts directed toward enhancing emergency preparedness, emergency response, and disaster recovery. This 5 (a) Rodríguez, H., W. Diaz, and B. Aguirre. 2004. Communicating Risk and Warnings: An Integrated and Interdisciplinary Research Approach. University of Delaware, Disaster Research Center, Preliminary Paper No. 337; (b) Lindell, M.K., and R.W. Perry. 2004. Communicating Environmental Risk in Multiethnic Communities. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure: Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities offers an immediate means to mitigate the effects of a terrorist attack on the chemical infrastructure. MAJOR RECOMMENDATIONS DHS should support research directed toward enhancing emergency preparedness, emergency response, and disaster recovery. Through study of past events, social science research has derived significant understanding of the components required to prepare a community or a populace for hazardous events and to effectively respond to and recover from those events. Efforts to increase this knowledge and to expand its use in practice can rapidly enhance our capacity to mitigate the effects of a chemical event. This could, in turn, make the chemical infrastructure a less attractive target for terrorists. It has the further benefit that such efforts are “dual use”—of near or equal value in the case of a chemical accident. Areas that could be addressed include Means to promote community-level hazard mitigation practices, such as land use regulation (e.g., buffer zones and density limits), building construction practices, incentives, and risk communication; Factors that promote adoption of more effective emergency preparedness and recovery preparedness; The extent to which existing research findings are implemented in local emergency operations, plans, procedures, and training; Development of better models to guide protective action decision making in emergencies (i.e., choosing between evacuation and sheltering-in-place), and other aspects of incident management; Adequacy of training and exercises for disaster response; Understanding how appointed and elected officials and the populace interpret information about hazards and perceive risks; and Better understanding of social vulnerability (i.e., identifying those segments of the population whose resources or abilities impede their adoption of hazard mitigation measures or their capacity to prepare for, respond to, or recover from disaster). DHS should explore ways to enable rapid analysis and communication of data for decision making and communication to the public during and after an emergency.
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Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure: Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities Effective emergency response depends on the rapid analysis of information received in a crisis to determine its relevance and accuracy. This information must also be communicated rapidly and accurately to all necessary parties involved in decision making, and then integrated into the decision making process to determine an effective response. This is especially true in a chemical attack because event-specific conditions such as the type of chemical, quantity of material, and release location will be critical to determining the appropriate course of action. Research to determine the most critical information to be communicated between responders and to the public, and the means to gather and disseminate that information, can result in a rapid improvement in emergency response capabilities. Such research would be universally applicable to all chemical emergencies—independent of the type of incident or chemical involved. In investing in and utilizing behavioral and social science research, DHS should give particular attention to understanding and preparing for the societal response that will occur following a major chemical incident. The American public has long been recognized to be apprehensive about chemicals. Public authorities will need an understanding of social amplification and attenuation if they wish to successfully manage the aftermath of a chemical attack. Research can support the development of specific guidelines for limiting, and even mitigating, consequences by stimulating a positive public response and preventing negative social amplification. Community members and end users should be actively engaged in identifying their vulnerabilities, disaster planning and management, development of technology, and the communication process. The combination of engaging the end users and gaining a better understanding of the forces that cause social amplification or attenuation can effectively enhance the response to an event. DHS should support research to extend the applicability of current disaster impact models to chemical events. As noted in Chapter 5, the Disaster Impact Model (DIM) and similar models presented here have been generalized from research on storage and transportation scenarios to the conditions that would exist in the chemical misuse and chemical shortage scenarios. Despite the apparent applicability
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Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure: Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities of the model to the latter two scenarios, further research is needed to confirm that the model’s assumptions and relationships are valid in these situations. Previous disaster research supports an all-hazards approach, in contrast to the focus on specific hazards that has emerged in recent approaches to homeland security. Furthermore, there is speculation, but little research, on whether human responses to intentional terrorist events differ significantly from responses to natural disasters or accidents. Such incongruities between current disaster models and current security concerns need to be identified and examined to determine what, if any, changes are required to our current understanding of mitigation preparedness, response, and recovery. DHS should support research to determine the combinations of incentives and disincentives that would best encourage the private sector to invest in safety and security. This will require research to identify the nature of the interdependencies and weak links in the supply chain and consideration of public-private partnerships to encourage voluntary adoption of protective measures by the weakest links in the chain. Due to the decentralized nature of many parts of the chemical supply chain, coordinating risk reduction measures across the system may prove difficult. To adequately integrate these risk reduction methods into such a decentralized industry, effort should be expended to identify those places within the chemical infrastructure where interdependencies exists and to understand the need to incorporate risk reduction techniques in these areas. DHS should develop new or enhance existing cooperative links and collaborative investment strategies with other appropriate government agencies and stakeholders in the community and in the private sector as it seeks to encourage security investments. This would help ensure that efforts to mitigate vulnerabilities are developed in a balanced manner. The coordination of regulation with a system of insurance and third-party inspection, as discussed in Chapter 5, is one such example. The effects of hazard insurance on both individual and corporate decision making could also be fruitfully examined. DHS should support research and development to foster cost-effective, inherently safer chemistries and chemical processes.
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Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure: Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities The most desirable solution to preventing chemical releases is to reduce or eliminate the hazard where possible, not to control it. This can be achieved by modifying processes where possible to minimize the amount of hazardous material used, lower the temperatures and pressures required, replace a hazardous substance with a less hazardous substitute, or minimize the complexity of a chemical process.6 Many of the advances required to develop practical alternatives to today’s chemicals and chemical processes are fundamental and pre-competitive.7 The economic incentives for industrial funding are frequently absent, which leads to the need for either a government investment in research or government-provided financial incentives for industrial investments. Inherently safer chemistry such as process intensification, “just-in-time” chemical manufacturing, and the use of smaller-scale processes offers the potential for improved safety at chemical facilities. While applications show promise and have found use within the chemical industry, these applications at present are still quite limited in scope. As a central element of a longer-term research program, DHS should seek ways to improve the safety and security of chemical storage in both fixed facilities and transportation. A container holding significant quantities of a hazardous chemical provides an obvious terrorist target. While efforts to strengthen existing containers against intentional rupture are ongoing, there may be opportunities to fundamentally change the means by which hazardous chemicals are stored. For example, methods to store chemicals in adsorbents are currently available but are generally limited to small quantities of chemicals. Research could seek to enable use of adsorbents at the cylinder scale and also to use such storage methods for larger volumes involved in truck or rail shipments or on-site storage. Other possibilities for fundamental change in storage include low-pressure storage (which would reduce the release rate given an unintended rupture) or underground storage technologies (which would reduce the storage tank profile presented to terrorists). 6 See the following web site for more information: http://www.ehw.org/Chemical_Accidents/CHEM_InherentSafety.htm. 7 Pre-competitive research is research that is sufficiently fundamental in its nature that companies are not adverse to their competitors having equal access to the results (i.e., it requires significant research investment to reach the development stage).
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Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure: Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities DHS should invest in S&T to enhance real-time monitoring of breaches in containment, the chemical infrastructure and any disruptions to it, and any resulting consequences of an event. The near-term objective of enhancing emergency response effectiveness can be furthered through efforts to develop reliable detection techniques that can be widely distributed, are easy to use, and would give accurate results quickly and clearly. These can aid in “early warning” of chemical releases to catch them before they become catastrophic and would aid in decision making and response, prevention of catastrophic release, or more timely and effective emergency response if the information reaches Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) in a timely manner. In research and development for chemical sensors, DHS should focus on furthering technologies that are relatively inexpensive to deploy and easy to use. As it pursues sophisticated technologies for security monitoring, DHS should not neglect lower-technology solutions, such as inventory audits and inspections. Using inventory controls as a means to quickly identify theft of hazardous chemicals may provide a fundamental means to prevent a terrorist attack. This capability may prove difficult if not impossible to mimic with sensor technology. Investments aimed at improving compliance with such procedures would be appropriate. DHS should support the development and application of robust models to predict off-site consequences of chemical events and ensure that the type of model used is appropriate to the situation. As shown in Chapter 3 and 4, the presence and use of toxic chemicals create vulnerabilities and could cause catastrophic casualties. Effective predictive models could greatly reduce these vulnerabilities and improve emergency planning and response. Different levels of accuracy and precision are needed for different levels of emergency planning and emergency response. The accuracy and precision of situational models and consequence analysis currently in use must be better understood. While the physics of a hazardous plume release can be described using models, the effect on populations is not yet well characterized. Limitations in understanding of the toxic ef-
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Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure: Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities fects of many substances, and in the understanding of the dose-response relationship of hazardous chemicals over time, especially for vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and the poor, limit current capacity to model casualties. Further efforts will be needed to understand the dispersion and toxicity of chemical mixtures. Furthermore, the reliance of early security risk assessments on the outputs of emergency planning efforts such as the Risk Management Plans submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has led to misimpressions of the potential consequences of individual events. While such data may have been useful for initial screening, they have also led to significant confusion and alarm among various decision makers and the public. Better, more appropriate data should be used, and clear explanations of the change should be provided to different stakeholders. When considering investments to prevent or mitigate vulnerabilities, DHS should complete an overall risk assessment that would consist of analyzing the combination of vulnerability, threat or likelihood, and consequence of an event. While the consequences of a terrorist attack on the chemical infrastructure are of significance to the population affected, there is no reason to deviate from the principles and approach of good risk assessment and management decision making when prioritizing investments to mitigate these consequences. Each assessment should consider a realistic scenario and its vulnerabilities, likelihood of occurrence, and consequences if it were to occur. The scenario should be processed through a series of tests to assess if it can be significantly disruptive or catastrophic. These tests should consider loss of life, economic impact, and the ability of state and local government to respond to the event and should also consider the impact of social amplification. This should be followed by an analysis to assess the trade-off between expected benefit and cost of the proposed solution. CONCLUSION The findings and recommendations listed in this report emphasize the importance of the development of new technology and investment in current technology and also highlight the need to combine this technology with effective communication strategies, reliable and effective mitigation techniques, and preparedness and response strategies. This combination is
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Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure: Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities needed to minimize the possibility of a terrorist attack and its effects or consequences. When confronting the potential for terrorist attack, it is essential to constantly reassess both the progress being made and the possibility of unintended consequences when implementing a technology “solution.” The threat from terrorism is not static, and it is not unreasonable to assume that terrorist tactics will evolve with emerging technologies designed to defeat their threat. Some strategies to address terrorism reduce the chance of a successful attack, some reduce the consequences of such an incident, and some relocate the vulnerability—that is, these strategies may reduce the chance of direct casualties, but still leave financial and cascading impacts. All of these factors must be taken into consideration when assessing vulnerabilities of the chemical infrastructure. While new and more advanced technology can enhance mitigation, preparedness, response, and communications for events impacting the chemical sector, it is not the complete solution to the potentially devastating impacts of such incidents. Effective, continuous, and up-to-date information is crucial prior to, during, and after a disaster situation. Research has shown that one of the most significant problems with warnings and dissemination of risk or disaster information is how this information is communicated to the general public. Such communication must take into account the audience’s cultural background, language preference, and other socioeconomic characteristics that may significantly influence the receipt of and response to the message. The historical accident record and recent events such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita highlight the need for effective disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery initiatives; raising community awareness; increasing disaster training for emergency response personnel and decision makers; and enhancing intra- and interorganizational communication and coordination at all levels of government and with the general public.
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