APPROACH TO THIS STUDY

In considering how explosives can be controlled by technological or regulatory means, the committee tried to take into account the balance of cost and benefit. In so doing, it identified a range of options for action. Recognizing that the bombing threat is likely to continue but may vary in nature and severity, the committee scaled its recommended options according to the perceived level of threat.20 In considering the level of threat, the committee emphasized not only the severity of bombings (in terms of lives lost and property damage per incident), but also the public's perception of its vulnerability to bombings. However, the committee recognizes that it will be policymakers—not the committee—who will determine what constitutes a specific threat level and which recommended options for control can and will be invoked.

Many stakeholder groups have taken a strong interest in the issues raised by this study. As one example, AN is widely used as a fertilizer and is a principal component of ANFO, the most widely used commercial explosive in the United States (Hopler, 1997). Any new legal or regulatory requirements affecting AN could have a direct impact on a broad range of U.S. industries, particularly the chemical, fertilizer, and mining industries. Questions persist about the efficacy, safety, and cost of using markers, taggants, and inertants, and industry trade associations and private-sector groups have raised a variety of economic and legal questions that must be considered.21 Although this report has a science and technology focus, it also reflects input from a significant number of stakeholder groups (see Appendix E).

The committee believes that, given the wide range of options available to potential bombers, it is not realistic to expect to prevent or deter all illegal bombings. A more realistic goal is to make it more difficult for would-be bombers to operate, and to increase the chances that they will be caught. Various approaches for accomplishing this are discussed in Chapters 2 through 5. The appendixes to this report provide details and supplementary information as appropriate.

20  

 The committee is, of course, mindful that responses to an assessment of increased threat cannot for the most part be instantaneous. The committee did not try to describe a threat-response scenario that could be implemented on a real-time basis but instead attempted to provide a range of options to choose from depending on the seriousness of the threat from illegal bombings as judged by policymakers. These options include a series of research efforts that should be undertaken now, so that responses could be quickly implemented should the need arise. But other options would necessarily require time for the normal process of developing any new technical capabilities, programs, or federal regulations and policies that might be considered essential. The committee did not attempt to estimate implementation times for such options.

21  

 For a discussion of associated legal issues, see Appendix G.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement