Advances in chemical science and technology have enhanced national security in innumerable ways, contributing to our strength as individuals, our strength as a society, and our strength as a country. Chemical sciences and technologies produce most of the incredible range of materials that enable our modern society including clean water, abundant food, vaccines, and medicines; the clothes we wear; the homes, buildings, and factories in which we live and work; the roads, bridges, vehicles, fuels, and trade that support us; the electronic marvels that entertain, enable, and protect us; and the weapons and munitions that defend us. Chemical science and technology has markedly contributed to making us the envy of the world.
However, that envy also is a threat. Our success highlights economic disparity that may engender resentment and foment ideological conflict. Our chemical enterprise itself may become a target to be disrupted or diverted for retaliatory purposes by others. Discussions at the workshop have identified four grand challenges, the improvement and development of knowledge and technologies in the areas of threat reduction, preparation, situational awareness, and threat neutralization and remediation. Details are provided in this chapter and those that follow.
Our economic success revolves around energy. Although we are only 4 percent of the world's population, we consume just under one-quarter of all the energy produced (and in so doing are the largest generator of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning), but with that energy, we create more than
one-quarter of the world's entire gross national product. Half of our energy comes from oil, and over half of that oil is imported. A quarter of our energy comes from natural gas, and an increasing percentage of that is also imported. Protecting our access to foreign sources of energy has a huge impact on foreign policy and national security. 1
Eliminating our dependence on outside sources of energy would reduce perhaps the greatest threat to our national security. The United States has significant deposits of coal and uranium. It has significant reserves of oil and gas that are somewhat more expensive to extract than reserves from many foreign sources. It also has significant land area on which to place various instruments of energy capture such as windmills, solar cells, and biomass. The critical challenge to U.S. energy independence is the better exploitation of indigenous sources of energy, including solar energy. This challenge includes development of clean ways to use abundant coal; enhanced recovery of more of the oil and gas (and gas hydrates) we have; systems for the production, storage, and use of clean hydrogen as a transportation fuel; much less expensive photovoltaic, wind, and biomass systems for solar energy exploitation; safe and proliferation-resistant nuclear power and waste stewardship systems; and systems throughout for the minimization and more efficient use of whatever energy is consumed.
Energy independence was recognized by the workshop participants as one of the most important issues related to national security and homeland defense. As “Energy and Transportation” was the topic of another Challenges for the Chemical Sciences in the 21st Century workshop, further discussion of these issues will be curtailed in this report, but can be found in the report of the aforementioned workshop.
Many of the chemical products and services on which our society has come to depend would have a particularly strong or immediate health, economic, or military impact if they were to become even temporarily unavailable. The supply chains (raw materials, intermediates, catalysts, additives, etc.) essential for manufacturing these strategic products or services may be vulnerable to interruption, particularly if raw materials or intermediates are produced in few or off-shore locations, involve dangerous or unstable materials that cannot or should not be inventoried in large quantities, or are transported by vulnerable methods along vulnerable routes. A critical challenge to reducing the potential for chemical systems interruption includes the development of mitigation strategies, for example, the development of alternative sources of supply, establishment of strategic reserves, contingencies for rapid replacement of production capability, alternative transportation modes, and the development of alternative intrinsically more secure and less vulnerable chemistries.
The products of our chemical processing industries themselves could become the instruments of terrorists because of their flammability, reactivity, toxicity, or notoriety. It is critical to minimize the vulnerability of chemicals or chemical assets to attack, contamination, or diversion for terrorist purposes, particularly as weapons of mass destruction. Critical challenges include the development of systems or chemistries that reduce the amount of or substitute for materials currently at risk, alter the attractiveness of such materials to terrorists, minimize the inventory and transportation of such materials, and that can detect and track the covert production and transportation of such materials.
We can only assume that terrorist attacks against people, the environment, commercial assets, and military assets will occur in the future. A critical challenge is to have integrated response measures in place to minimize loss of life and property from such attacks. Attacks employing chemical, biological, explosive, or radiological agents require different measures for response. For example, a chemical or radiological attack will present a hazardous materials problem because the chemical agents remain localized and the threat is not contagious, whereas an attack with biological agents will require a public health response because of the likelihood of spread beyond the point of exposure due to high communicability. 2 Integrated information systems will be required to coordinate and maximize the effectiveness of a diverse group of responders and a broad-based public health infrastructure must exist. Panic in the population will be reduced by education of the public about the nature of terrorist threats and how to respond to reduce injury.
To increase the effectiveness of our response to terrorist attacks, we need to understand the fundamental science of threat agents, including how, on a molecular level, they elicit their physiological responses in humans. Such fundamental knowledge could lead to the design of new antidotes and the development of effective prophylactic measures such as safer vaccines. We now face the possibility of attack by new biological agents produced through biotechnology. As a result, we require new technologies to rapidly identify novel agents and a capability to discover and produce medical countermeasures on an emergency basis. New technologies are needed in hospital emergency rooms to respond to mass casualties. New methods of medical surveillance could allow exposure of victims to threat agents to be detected and response to be initiated and coordinated prior to victims showing conventional symptoms.
2D. R. Franz. 2002, Current Thought on Bioterrorism: The Threat, Preparedness, and Response. Presentation, Workshop on National Security and Homeland Defense, Irvine, CA. (See Appendix D.)
Loss of life or property from a terrorist attack at home or on our troops on a battlefield would be minimized or possibly prevented by the capability to detect the presence of chemical, biological, or radiological agents anywhere in the world. Detection capabilities are also required at borders and U.S. ports of entry, where shipping containers and vehicles should be checked for evidence of chemical weapons, biological weapons, and explosives. Beyond detection, the capability to unambiguously identify observed threat agents is required to maximize the effectiveness of our response.
To meet this critical challenge, new technologies for detection and identification of threat agents should be developed. The availability of detectors that are small, rugged, and low cost would allow our detection capability to be dispersed widely at home and abroad. The objective must be instantaneous detection and rapid identification, both with near 100 percent reliability, because erroneous
Industrial Use of Sensors
Scott D. Cunningham
Most people do not think of the chemical industry as experts in sensor technology. Nevertheless, the industry is the largest designer, user, and consumer of sensors for risk avoidance and quality control. One group in DuPont identifies rugged and reliable sensors and analyzers for real-time process control. It is a difficult task to find a useful sensor in the real world. Take Raman or some of the fancier near infrared spectroscopies, for example; they are great tools in the laboratory, but to use them successfully on-line, in an oily environment, with dust and cleaning fluids residues flying around everywhere is a remarkable feat. In spite of this, these types of spectroscopies are running on-line in a nylon plant. In addition, fiberoptic-coupled sensors are used for on-line particle color, appearance, and size characterization, and sensors monitor the head space over fairly dangerous environments such as pesticides and hydrofluoric acid. These detection technologies can be and have been integrated into the everyday decision making and risk analysis used in real-world plant environments. The chemical industry has never dealt with sensing and detection in an office building or on the battlefield, and right now does not have an intuitive feel for what should be measured or how sensors would be installed. However, industry's talents in analytical chemistry, integration, and risk management can certainly be applied to mitigating the effect of terror in the nonindustrial realm.
detection or identification of threat agents can undermine the credibility and use of this capability. To achieve high reliability, sensitivity should be improved over what is provided by our current spectroscopic, mass spectrometric, and biological detection capabilities. Unambiguous identification of threat agents requires integration of detector response with databases of signatures of known threat agents, and the capability to recognize new threat agents from a generic property. The principle of orthogonality—multiple, uncorrelated analytical techniques in one sensor—must be included in the research and development.
THREAT NEUTRALIZATION AND REMEDIATION
If an attack on a chemical asset or by a chemical or biological agent does occur, it is essential that the damage be contained, neutralized, and remediated as expeditiously and safely as possible. Most chemical production and storage facilities already have disaster recovery and containment plans in place in case of an accident. These plans are also generally applicable to intentional attack. By design, damage to production facilities and the potential for massive chemical release, especially outside the plant boundary, is expected to be limited. An industry-wide system is also in place for response to transportation accidents,
Sandia National Laboratories
Because decontamination occurs after buildings have been evacuated and first responders have treated any casualties, it allows for some time lapse before decontamination begins. With some planning, damage can be minimized and the efficacy of the decontamination process can be maximized. For example, sensitive equipment, electronics, valuable artwork, and personal objects will require chemicals that are less harsh than those used to clean air ducts and walls. The lack of time sensitivity also allows the choice of a decontaminant that may have a longer reaction time, but that is more suitable for the surface or the ambient conditions such as humidity and temperature. Thus, it is best to obtain a suite of decontamination methods.
There is currently a wide variety of decontaminants from which to choose, but many have not been tested or proven efficacious. Standard test protocols need to be developed to give regulatory approval to sensors and decontamination formulations and to ensure that a product is meeting the specifications of the users.
including fire suppression, leak containment, and chemical neutralization. Of course, assessment of industrial safety needs and installation of safety measures should continue.
Outside the chemical industry, however, organized systems are not in place to react to an intentional release of toxic chemicals or biological agents. Critical challenges for chemists and chemical engineers in this area include development of appropriate collective and personal protection systems for first responders, hazardous materials (HAZMAT) response teams, and the affected public; immediate and extended medical countermeasures for both chemical and biological agents; and neutralization, detoxification, decontamination, and disposal procedures for materials (for example, buildings and equipment) and environmental spaces (for example, soils and waterways).