Thursday, May 26, 2005

Terrorist Attack of Chemical Plants

Editorial page of NYTimes:

"May 26, 2005
A Lawmaker Works, Oddly Enough, to Keep His Voters' Backyards Dangerous


It is no surprise, given the close ties between industry and regulators in Washington these days, that Joe Barton is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Mr. Barton, a Texas Republican, is such an energy industry loyalist - and so soft on air pollution - that his hometown paper dubbed him "Smokey Joe." He has regularly helped his industry friends by weakening environmental laws and handing out tax breaks. But now he seems poised to do something far more disturbing: block legislation to secure chemical plants against terrorist attacks.

Chemical plants are probably the nation's greatest vulnerability. President Bush's former deputy homeland security adviser, Richard Falkenrath, told Congress last month that they stand "alone as uniquely deadly, pervasive and susceptible to terrorist attack." The death toll from a chemical plant attack could easily outstrip 9/11. The Department of Homeland Security has warned that a single chlorine tank explosion could kill 17,500 people.

Two of the country's most dangerous chemical facilities, which threaten more than one million people, are in Dallas, just outside Mr. Barton's district."

My post on the Forum:

I have two kinds of questions.

Regarding Texas chemical industry resistance to protecting the chemical plants from terrorists.

In case of attack, how far would the toxic clouds spread? Aren't the managers and executives at risk also? How far away from plants do they live? How far away are their children's schools? I have some notion what the the answers are, but I would like to see some data.

Regarding exposure of New York City to terrorist attacks on the chemical plants in New Jersey, across the Hudson River.

The exposure must be potentially devastating, especially considering that strong winds blow from the West most of the Winter. In self-interest, why isn't the NY Times writing about this danger, repeatedly until strong preventive measures are implemented? Why is our Mayor going bonkers over a stadium instead of protecting us? This is a scandal of immeasurable proportions.


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