The Future of Chemical Plant Security — one-day symposium, Monday, Aug. 29

08/19/05

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 — Reducing vulnerabilities at chemical facilities will be addressed during a special one-day symposium, "The Future of Chemical Plant Security: Where Will We Be in 2015," on Monday, Aug. 29, at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. The symposium, sponsored by ACS President William F. Carroll, Jr., Ph.D., begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Washington Convention Center, room 207A. Among the featured speakers is Charles McQueary, Undersecretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security. Selected highlights include:

Best practices and designs — Since Sept. 11, 2001, safety and security have become priorities for all sectors of society, particularly for chemists and the facilities where they work. Sharing best practices and best principles for safe and secure design is an important route to improvement now and in the future. Kicking off this symposium, ACS President Carroll will offer some of his thoughts on this vital subject. (PRES 9, Monday, Aug. 29, 8:35 a.m.)

Preparing for the unthinkable — Investigations conducted by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) have identified problems with the preparedness of companies, emergency responders, the public and others in dealing with a number of chemical incidents. This has led to concerns about how well communities are prepared to respond in case of a large-scale chemical attack or an accident. "In the immediate future," says CSB Chairman and CEO Carolyn W. Merritt, "we can choose two possible pathways. In the first, we heed the warning signs, begin to organize our emergency response resources and prepare to protect our population. In the second, we do little, continuing on as we are, and the unthinkable occurs. Then, after a major tragedy, and after the inevitable finger-pointing about why we weren’t prepared, we scramble to do better next time." These are the choices, Chairman Merritt says, that are now on the table. (PRES 10, Monday, Aug. 29, 8:45 a.m.)

Do safer processes really eliminate the risk of chemical terrorism? — Safer design techniques have reduced the risk of catastrophic chemical industry accidents. Since 9/11, some advocates have suggested that widespread use of these safer processes could be the ultimate means of securing the infrastructure of the chemical industry. While certain safer approaches could potentially help improve security, many are not yet technologically feasible. In some instances, they even create a new set of risks. In addition, terrorists may have other motivations, such as theft or contamination of products, for breaching chemical plant security that have nothing to do with the air-borne release of harmful substances. Scott Berger of the Center for Chemical Process Safety at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers discusses what safer processes can, and cannot, do to improve security in the next decade. (PRES 12, Monday, Aug. 29, 10:20 a.m.)

The national picture: chemical threats and countermeasures — Charles E. McQueary, Undersecretary for Science & Technology at the Department of Homeland Security, will address chemical threats and discuss research and development priorities to respond to potential threats in the future. His presentation will include information about threat awareness and characterization, detection, contamination assessment, decontamination and restoration, and laboratory networks. (PRES 14, Monday, Aug. 29, 11:40 a.m.)

Industry initiatives to bolster chemical plant security — The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has taken a leadership role in securing chemical facilities and products through implementation of the Responsible Care® Security Code. More than 2,000 ACC member facilities have conducted security vulnerability assessments and have invested more than $2 billion in security improvements. Dorothy Kellogg, senior director of security and operations at the ACC, will outline industry initiatives, including those conducted independently or in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). She also will discuss ACC’s support for legislation to give DHS regulatory authority over chemical facility security and other recommendations to secure and protect the U.S. chemical infrastructure. (PRES 15, 1:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29)

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 158,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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