The NY Times champions the cause of chemical plant security, something I thought had already been addressed (apparently not), and while the whole thing was a little surprising, this paragraph stuck out the most:
If terrorists attacked a chemical plant, the death toll could be enormous. A single breached chlorine tank could, according to the Department of Homeland Security, lead to 17,500 deaths, 10,000 severe injuries and 100,000 hospitalizations. Many chemical plants have shockingly little security to defend against such attacks.
After 9/11, there were immediate calls for the government to impose new security requirements on these plants. But the chemical industry, which contributes heavily to political campaigns, has used its influence in Washington to block these efforts. Senator Collins, the chairwoman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, has held hearings on chemical plant security, and has now come up with this bill with both Republican and Democratic sponsors.
The bill requires chemical plants to conduct vulnerability assessments and develop security and emergency response plans. The Department of Homeland Security would be required to develop performance standards for chemical plant security. In extreme cases, plants that do not meet the standards could be shut down.
They haven’t done vulnerability assessments or developed response plans yet? This goes beyond government responsibility- how have they managed to continue without their insurers making sure this was taken care of. Or their investors? Or what about action by the local communities which would be affected by Bhopal-like clouds of gas covering the area?
*** Update ***
More here on DHS failings.