Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Louisiana's chemical plants

My column today focuses on the vulnerability of chemical plants to terror attacks, particularly in Louisiana. A recent report from the Congressional Research Service provided information about dangerous plants and population density in their vicinities. (Link to the report here.) As I write in the column, “members of the communities and families ‘living next to volatile chemicals’… should be concerned… recent congressional testimony suggests the Bush Administration is thinking about taking a tougher regulatory stand despite chemical industry complaints that it will cost too much. Meanwhile, the aforementioned CRS report has put a number on potential human costs if nothing is done.” See here for recent testimony to the Senate Homeland Security Committee about chemical plant security. According to the CRS report, the numbers break down like this in Louisiana: Areas with population of 0 to 999: 138 chemical plants Areas with population of 1,000 to 9,9999: 106 chemical plants Areas with population of 10,000 to 99,999: 57 chemical plants Areas with population of 100,000 to 999,999: 50 chemical plants Areas with population of more than 1,000,000: 2 chemical plants An article in the Times Picayune last month reported on recent testimony to Congress about the continued vulnerability of the nation’s chemical plants almost four years after 9/11. The Atlanta Journal Constitution had an editorial on the subject a few weeks ago. The New York Times had an editorial last week about the need to continue protecting the United States from terrorist attacks. And chemical plants came up again. Finally, the National Environmental Trust has collected relevant information and clips here: Chemcial Site Security: America's Achilles' Heel?