WASHINGTON, D.C.—New Jersey is home to five of the nation’s most “dangerous” chemical facilities, according to a report released last week. Security experts identify the chemical plants as potential terrorist targets.
Each of the 101 chemical facilities identified by the report of the Center for American Progress could endanger more than a million people in the event of a terrorist strike or an accidental release of toxic gas.
The Infineum USA plant in Linden, which uses chlorine gas to make industrial additives, is one of the five New Jersey facilities identified. The others include the Kuehne Chemical Co. plant in South Kearney that uses chlorine gas to produce liquid bleach; the DuPont Chambers Works plant in Deepwater, which uses chlorine gas to make polymers; the Valero Refining Co. petroleum refinery in Paulsboro, which uses hydrofluoric acid to turn crude oil into gasoline; and the Thorofare plant in West Deptford, which uses hydrofluoric acid to make other chemicals.
More than 80 million Americans live within range of a worst-case toxic gas cloud from at least one of the nation’s 101 most dangerous chemical facilities, which security experts say are potential terrorist targets. Millions more are at risk along delivery routes—more than 90 percent of these facilities transport high-hazard chemicals by rail or truck.
The report recommends that the facilities use safer and more secure chemicals to reduce the threat.
“Adopting safer chemicals is the only certain way to protect American communities from a toxic gas release,” said Paul Orum, a chemical safety consultant who was commissioned by the Center for American Progress to prepare the report. “Replacing hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives removes the danger.”
Temporary chemical security standards enacted two years ago (and set to expire in 2009) focus almost entirely on physical security measures, such as adding gates and guards.
“Security experts, the Department of Homeland Security, and the chemical industry itself all recognize that chemical facilities are vulnerable to terrorism,” said P.J. Crowley, a senior fellow and director of national defense and homeland security at the Center for American Progress. “We must move beyond our current focus on site security. Site security, even if effective, does nothing to protect the millions of Americans who live along chemical delivery routes. Instead, where we can, we should remove high-hazard chemicals from our communities, railways, and roads. This report shows the way forward.”
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