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Privately-owned Critical Infrastructure Essay

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One privately owned infrastructure critical to the United States are chemical facilities. “The majority of Chemical Sector facilities are privately-owned: requiring DHS to work closely with the private sector and its industry associations to identify and prioritize assets, assess risk, develop and implement protective programs, and measure program effectiveness” (Department of Homeland Security, n/d, pg. ). Any attack or natural disaster at or around a chemical facility, such as a nuclear plant could be one of the most severe incidents ever.

An incident at a chemical facility would affect more than just the destruction to the compound and employees, but it could also affect a community, an entire city, and other sectors that depend on a chemical facility.

This is why a mitigation and prevention plan is very important for this type of infrastructure. The facilities need to take into account the other businesses, sectors, and communities that depend on them and depend on them to be safe. Management of these facilities would need to work with federal agencies and support homeland security initiatives to create an action plan in case of a terrorist attack or natural disaster.

The federal government already has chemical facility standards or CFATS that can help with security at high risk facilities (Department of Homeland Security, n/d, pg.2). A natural-disaster and terrorism-threat risk assessment for the selected critical infrastructure A natural disaster at a chemical facility has a higher probability than a terrorist threat, but a terrorist attack would cause more destruction. Any disaster whether natural or man-made can affect an entire community and the health of everyone around a chemical facility.

“A disaster is the result produced from the combination of a hazard, vulnerability, and insufficient capacity or measures to reduce the potential chances of risk” (Kulkarini & Bhattacharya, 2011, par. 2). Unless the facility has a risk assessment that enables them better to protect against the possible threat and looming destruction from an incident, the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack would be more likely and more destructive. At a chemical plant that holds chemicals, such as potassium amide and potassium metal would be a facility that needs extreme protection because those chemicals can react violently to water.

A natural disaster could be a high risk for this facility. It could cause a high amount of damage, and the likelihood that it could happen is high because there is always a threat of severe weather no matter the location. This critical facility must have mitigation and preparedness plans in case of a natural disaster. A chemical plant is a very attractive location for a terrorist to attack. An attack on a chemical plant that holds sulfur dioxide, such as the one that the ringleader, Mohamed Atta of Al-Qaeda was inquiring about before the 9/11 attacks would be deadly and destructive to buildings, communities, the economy, etc.

An attack on a chemical plant is less likely than a natural disaster, but the destruction would be the same if not much worse because terrorist would see their vulnerability and try an attack at other locations. “Had the terrorist crashed a plane into those tanks, releasing the toxic vapor, up to 60,000 people could have been killed or seriously injured” (Houston Chronicle, 2009, par. 11). It is important that chemical facilities follow the new “terrorist safe procedures” that help change chemicals in certain chemical products to create a safer facility as well as process for how to store the chemicals. The effect on surrounding businesses and commercial interests if an event was to occur

The effect on surrounding businesses and commercial interests is and should be a concern to chemical facilities. It is also a concern to the community surrounding the facilities. There are many people, consumers, and business that rely on the chemicals and the products that some chemical facilities make. The communities and business in the surrounding area also rely on the facility to maintain a safe and secure environment to help better protect them. In an event that a natural disaster would occur and hit the chemical facility, surrounding businesses would have to close for precautions until an investigation determines if the atmosphere surrounding the facility was safe or not.

A chemical facility that was destroyed by a tornado could release chemicals into the air and affect surrounding business. If that does occur, the surrounding businesses could have to close their doors for several days or even weeks.

“The chemical industry is the largest U.S. exporter, accounting for more than ten percent of all exports by dollars” (Kosal, n/d, pg. 721). Commercial interest in an event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster could be devastating. Chemical facilities produce special products and raw chemicals that our nation rely on and consider critical to our infrastructure. If a terrorist attacks one of our discrete industries that hold economic, welfare, and defense importance, it “could have a disabling effect far exceeding the immediate death and destruction” (Kosal, n/d, pg. 721). Prices for come many commodities can increase greatly, for example gasoline.

The private sector’s responsibility in establishing a prevention and mitigation plan

“Mitigation and preparedness are vital for sustainable emergency management because strategies geared strictly toward post disaster response tend to be costlier than those accounting for pre-disaster opportunities” (Bullock, Haddow, & Coppola, 2013, pg.437). For a chemical plant the private sector would hold responsibility in establishing prevention and mitigation. The United States Department of Homeland Security establishes “risk based performance standards” to chemical facilities to protect themselves better, and everyone around them.

They introduced a rule that “requires covered facilities to prepare security vulnerability assessments, which identify facility security vulnerabilities, and to develop and implement site security plans, which include measures that satisfy the identified risk-based performance standards” (Department of Homeland Security, 2013, par. 2). Protection plans help prevent and mitigate destructive incidents, such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The biggest concern is vulnerability at a chemical facility.

The government has some responsibility in assisting the private sector with prevention and mitigation. Any location that is at high-risk of a terrorist attack must receive attention and assistance from federal agencies. The prevention and mitigation plan must also extend beyond the facility and focus on the trucks and trains that distribute the chemicals. These forms of transportation are of high-risk to accidents from natural disasters or terrorist attacks to cause harm or steal chemicals. It is the private sector’s responsibility to provide protection and implement mitigation policies to help reduce the impact or probability of an incident.

The private sector’s roles in supporting homeland security initiatives Homeland security will help provide assistance to these privately owned facilities through communication, coordination, chemical standards, chemical processes, etc. The main initiative of the Department of Homeland security is to lead and coordinate the Nations protection plan. However, the government encourages critical infrastructures, such as the chemical facilities to spend more money on security of their assets than their normal day-to-day operations (Ebinger & Hayes, 2011, pg.1).

The private sector’s role and responsibility in supporting homeland security initiatives include “undertaking CIKR protection, restoration, coordination, and cooperation activities, and provide advice, recommendation, and subject matter expertise to all levels of government” (Collins, Markowski, White, 2010, pg.226).

Some private sector infrastructures are willing to support homeland security initiatives and assist in terrorism protection; they understand the “need to share the responsibility of government and firms in dealing with catastrophes” (Ebinger & Hayes, 2011, pg.1). Some believe that any terrorist protection should be the sole responsibility of the government. This may be because they feel most of the terrorist threats stem from disagreements in politics, which has nothing to do with their operations and their business. How the federal government is prepared to assist the selected critical infrastructure

The federal government is also very involved with the chemical infrastructure. There are 23 agencies that work with the chemical sector, including the “Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Commerce, Justice, and Transportation all making up the Chemical Government Coordinating Council” (Department of Homeland Security, n/d), in assisting the chemical infrastructure. The federal government “has an explicit responsibility for protection of its own key structures and systems and certain special critical assets such as nuclear power plants and dams” (2011, pg. 5). They share information, resources, and physically step in and assist the chemical facilities in prevention and reaction to a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

There are sector specific agencies that are available to the chemical facility to assist them better in prevention and protection. The Department of Energy is one of those agencies that have an important role in protecting our energy sources. They act as the frontline in security in a situation in which a terrorist tries attack or steal from a chemical facility to force a radiological catastrophe, or if a natural disaster, such as a tornado strikes and sends chemicals into the air.

A chemical facility is one of the most explosive sites in our country. A natural disaster or terrorist attack could cause more destruction at a facility such as this than any other place. This is one of the most attractive things to a terrorist, and one of the most concerning things to our government and communities. The best way to handle the threat is to implement the best protection plan possible. It is very easy to determine the risk of both a terrorist attack and a natural disaster. As mentioned before, terrorist see this type of facility most attractive because it holds a larger amount of explosive material that they can use to blow up the facility or steal from.

However, a chemical facility will already have high protection and security plans in place just to protect them during normal day-to-day operations. A natural disaster is likely to happen and again because of the chemicals in it the protection surrounding the building should be at a higher standard than a normal structure.

This is how the private sector’s role and responsibility with protecting their assets during day-to-day operations intertwine with their protection against terrorist and natural disasters. Homeland Security and other federal agencies also assist these facilities in identifying risk factors, implementing procedures, responsibilities, and communication with the private sector.

Department of Homeland Security. (2013). Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/chemical-facility-anti-terrorism-standards Department of Homeland Security. (n/d). National Infrastructure Protection Plan: Chemical Sector. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/nipp_snapshot_chemical.pdf Collins, K., Markowski, T., & White, R. (2010). The United States Department of Homeland Security: An Overview (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions. Houston Chronicle. (2009). Toxins and Terrorist. Retrieved from http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/Toxins-and-terrorists-If-our-chemical-plants-1723147.php Kosal, E. M. (n/d). Terrorism Targeting Industrial Chemical Facilities: Strategic Motivations and the Implications for U.S. Security.

Retrieved from http://www.aaas.org/cstsp/files/kosal_terrorist%20attacks%20on%20chemical%20infrastructure_sct.pdf Kulkarini, H. K., R. Bhattacharya. (2011). A look at disaster management strategies for chemical industries. Retrieved from

http://www.process-worldwide.com/explosion_protection_safety_security/plant_protection/safety_engineering/articles/316211/index3.html U.S House of Representatives. (2013). Chemical facility security. Retrieved from http://homeland.house.gov/issue/chemical-facility-security

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