Securing Our Nation's Chemical Plants: What the DHS Is Doing

Risk assessments underway for major plants, other measures include security the trucking routes, detection sensors, more

Security Standards and Protective Measures

  • Protective programs that will more systematically identify and develop best practices across the entire chemical sector and beyond the fence line of a specific plant continue to be an aggressive effort to integrate community assets into the overall security posture of the chemical infrastructure. This effort includes programs such as the Buffer Zone Protection Program (BZPP), which includes grant funding and specific vulnerability assessments and planning.
  • In late February of this year, the Department announced $91.3 million in grant funding to protect and secure areas surrounding critical infrastructure and key resource sites such as chemical facilities across the country. The BZPP is a targeted grant program that provides funding to states to purchase equipment that will enhance security measures around facilities. To date, the Department has received 54 applications for approval of grants allowing the purchase of equipment found on the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness' Approved Equipment List and identified in a facility's Buffer Zone Plan (BZP).
  • Site visits are also conducted by Federal, state and local officials to address vulnerabilities with chemical facilities owners and operators as part of the BZPP. Buffer Zone Protection planning contributes to reducing specific vulnerabilities by developing protective measures that extend from the critical infrastructure site to the surrounding community to deny terrorists an operational environment. The Department works in collaboration with state, local, and tribal entities by providing training workshops, seminars, technical assistance and a common template to standardize the BZP development process. To date, 113 plans developed for chemical facilities have been submitted to the Department via state Homeland Security Advisors.
  • As part of the protective buffer zone effort, web-based cameras are being installed at the potentially highest-risk chemical facilities. The web cams aid facility personnel and local law enforcement officials in detecting and deterring surveillance and other terrorist activities. Each facility and local law enforcement operations centers will have access to the web cams. Additionally, the Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC) at the Department's headquarters will also have access in order to create a real-time picture of the operating environment.
  • The Department has recently awarded five contracts for the development of next generation chemical sensors for both indoor and outdoor use. These sensors will be used in part to give immediate warning to areas surrounding chemical facilities in the event of an incident, whether intentional or accidental.
  • The Department works in close coordination with such organizations as the American Chemistry Council and others to develop security-oriented screening tools, assessment tools, best practices, and other processes to improve our understanding both of risk and vulnerability, and to improve our security on a site by site and infrastructure-wide basis. All 2,040 member companies of the American Chemistry Council, as well as the entire membership of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturer's Association, and several other chemical industry trade associations, were required to implement strict voluntary security measures by the end of 2004. Outreach programs, information sharing, best practices and Site Assistance Visits have all encouraged owner/operators to reinforce employee screening, and these programs have become the norm throughout the industry, especially among Responsible Care ' companies. These Responsible Care ' companies have made great strides in improving security throughout the industry and up and down the value chain.