Skip Navigation
Home Information Sharing & Analysis Prevention & Protection Preparedness & Response Research Commerce & Trade Travel Security & Procedures Immigration
About the Department Open for Business Press Room
Current National Threat Level is elevated

The threat level in the airline sector is High or Orange. Read more

Fact Sheet: Protecting America’s Critical Infrastructure – Chemical Security

Release Date: 12/15/04 00:00:00

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate is focused on securing the nation’s seventeen critical infrastructure and key resource sectors. Chemical facilities are one specific sector that is of significant focus for the Department. Prior to the formation of DHS, responsibility for the nation’s critical infrastructure was scattered over a patchwork of various federal agencies. By creating the Department and its programs, aggressive measures have been taken to reduce the nation’s vulnerability to acts of terrorism. The Department is working closely with state and local governments as well as private sector partners to develop and coordinate plans to protect our complex infrastructure systems.

Assessing Vulnerabilities

  • The Department adapted EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP) database from a preparedness approach to one that focuses on the impacts of terrorist attacks so that vulnerability identification efforts and protective actions can be prioritized.  DHS has also conducted a preliminary risk analysis across the chemical sector to identify the most hazardous or highest-risk sites. This analysis included:
    Reviewing the amount of RMP toxic materials stored at sites;
    Reviewing the population density in the vicinity of large amounts of toxic chemicals;
    Evaluating possible impacts of intentional attack instead of the accidental release model used in safety programs; and
    Conducting plume modeling for more detailed effects prediction.

  • To date, the Department’s protective measures have been threat-based, focusing risk-management efforts on the sites of immediate concern. While the Department continues to work with our state, local and industry partners to refine the list of chemical sites, there are roughly 3,000 facilities that could impact over 1,000 people and nearly 300 facilities that could impact 50,000 or more people. To date, DHS officials have visited more than 160 of the more than 300 chemical, petrochemical and related sites of immediate concern. The Department continues to inspect these facilities on a priority basis.    

  • Prior to the establishment of the Department, there were limited inspections by federal infrastructure protection authorities. However, inspections that did occur were safety-oriented, including both Coast Guard and EPA inspections under their “inside the fence” safety regulations. By the end of 2005, the Department’s goal is to conduct approximately 300 Site Assist Visits (SAVs), where Homeland Security professionals will assist and advise site owners, operators, and security managers in making their facilities more secure.

Security Standards and Protective Measures

  • Protective programs that will more systematically identify and develop best practices across the entire chemical sector and beyond the fence line of a specific plant, continues to be an aggressive effort to integrate community assets into the overall security posture of the chemical infrastructure. This effort includes programs such as the Buffer Zone Protection Plans (BZPPs), and a variety of other educational, outreach, and coordination programs now in operation.

  • Site visits are also conducted with chemical facilities owners and operators as part of Buffer Zone Protection Plans. BZPPs are local efforts that contribute to reducing specific vulnerabilities by developing protective measures that extend from the critical infrastructure site to the surrounding community to deny terrorists an operational environment. The Department works in collaboration with state, local, and tribal entities by providing training workshops, seminars, technical assistance and a common template to standardize the BZPP development process. Local law enforcement takes a lead role in protecting its community as they are most familiar with the operational environment. To date, 65 plans developed by local law enforcement officials for chemical facilities have been submitted to the Department via State Homeland Security Advisors.

  • As part of the protective buffer zone effort, web-based cameras are being installed at the 12 potentially highest-risk chemical facilities. The web cams aid facility personnel and local law enforcement officials in detecting and deterring surveillance and other terrorist activities. Each facility and local law enforcement operations centers will have access to the web cams. Additionally, the Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC) at the Department’s headquarters will also have access in order to create a real-time picture of the operating environment.

  • The Department has recently awarded five contracts for the development of next generation chemical sensors for both indoor and outdoor use. These sensors will be used in part to give immediate warning to areas surrounding chemical facilities in the event of an incident, whether intentional or accidental.

  • All 2,040 member companies of the American Chemistry Council, as well as the entire membership of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturer’s Association, and several other chemical industry trade associations, will have implemented strict voluntary security measures by the end of 2004. Outreach programs, information sharing, best practices and Site Assistance Visits have all encouraged owner/operators to reinforce employee screening, and these programs have become the norm throughout the industry, especially among Responsible Care © companies. These Responsible Care © companies have made great strides in improving security throughout the industry and up and down the value chain.

  • DHS continues to work closely with industry groups in order to develop security-oriented screening tools, assessment tools, best practices, and other processes to improve our understanding both of risk and vulnerability, and to improve our security on a site by site and infrastructure-wide basis.

Sharing Information

  • DHS is enhancing sector-specific information sharing and coordinating mechanisms for all of the 17 critical infrastructure sectors, incorporating both Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) and Sector Coordinating Councils (SCCs). These entities have dual roles in that they serve as central points of information sharing within each of the sectors and also act as the liaison to the federal government. Their main functions are to funnel threat information to facilities and receive and collect information from facilities. The Chemical Sector ISAC has supported Homeland Security’s information sharing efforts since the Department’s inception and includes over 600 individuals representing more than 430 different chemical companies.

  • The Chemical Sector ISAC utilizes CHEMTREC, the chemical industry's 24-hour emergency communication center as the communication link between the Department and ISAC participants. When CHEMTREC receives information from DHS, that information is immediately transmitted, on an around-the-clock basis, to Chemical Sector ISAC participants utilizing electronic mail and a secure website.

  • The Department introduced the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) on February 24, 2004, a real-time counter terrorism communications network currently connected to all 50 states as well as more than 50 major urban areas. This program significantly strengthens the two-way flow of real-time threat information at the Sensitive-but-Unclassified level between the State, local and private sector partners. By the end of this year, information at the SECRET level will be able to be shared with HSIN users.

  • The Homeland Security Information Network – Critical Infrastructure (HSIN-CI) pilot Program is an unclassified network that immediately provides the Department’s Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC) with one-stop, 24/7 access to a broad spectrum of industries, agencies and critical infrastructure across both the public and private sectors, including chemical facilities. This conduit for two-way information sharing provides the Department with an expanding base of locally knowledgeable experts and delivers real-time access to critical information. The HSIN-CI initiative was expanded to include critical infrastructure owners and operators and the private sector in all 50 states centered regionally around the cities of Dallas, Seattle, Indianapolis and Atlanta regions. To date, HSIN-CI communicates with nearly 40,000 members.

Educating a Work Force

  • Information derived from Site Assistance Visits (SAVs) are used to create two series of sector specific reports that are disseminated to owners, operators, security planners and local law enforcement officials to integrate into their respective risk management processes. The Common Characteristics and Vulnerabilities (CV) reports highlight common issues across chemical facilities so that relevant stakeholders can address possible vulnerabilities and improve overall site security. Potential Indicators of Terrorist Attack (PI) reports give further insight to owners, operators, and law enforcement officials on how to better protect chemical facilities and, in turn, thousands of Americans in the surrounding communities.  

  • DHS has provided Buffer Zone Protection Plan workshops to state and local law enforcement officials in many cities who have chemical plants in their areas.

Transportation of Hazardous Materials

  • The Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002 was signed by President Bush to reduce the risk of a maritime security incident that could result in the loss of life, significant environmental damage, or economic disruption. Many chemical facilities are located near the water and many chemicals are transported via America’s waterways; MTSA requires a series of plans at the national, port, and individual vessel and facility levels to improve security for both facilities and vessels. Vessels and facilities that load or carry dangerous cargoes like hazardous chemicals must have individual security plans that address fundamental security measures such as access controls, communications, restricted areas, cargo-handling and monitoring, training, and incident reporting.

  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) are working closely with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to address security risks for the nation’s freight railroads which are used to transport Toxic Inhalant (TIH) chemical shipments. TSA, IP and DOT’s Research and Special Projects Administration (RSPA) and Federal Rail Administration have completed vulnerability assessment studies in two major metropolitan rail corridors and are developing buffer zone protection plans for those areas, which can be applied in other major metropolitan centers throughout the U.S. Furthermore, the railroad industry has developed security protocols for hazardous materials that address those products in transit as well as shipments on hand in stockyards and on sidings. Class I railroads employ their own private professional police officers that serve as an integral part of the rail industry’s security posture.

  • TSA will soon begin a Hazardous Materials Initiative pilot program that will identify possibilities for real time tracking of selected hazardous materials in a particular railroad supply chain, which will allow the Department and DOT to obtain a clear view of risks and vulnerabilities of that supply chain.

  • The Department has also completed terrorist name checks on all 2.7 million Hazardous Materials truck drivers. No clear terrorist nexus has been established with any of those drivers, and further investigation is being done on the nearly 30 potential matches that were found to determine whether those drivers’ Hazardous Materials endorsements will be revoked.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP) Directorate serves as the focal point for intelligence analysis, infrastructure protection operations, and information sharing.  IAIP merges the capability to identify and assess a broad range of intelligence and information concerning threats to the homeland, maps that information against the Nation’s vulnerabilities, issues timely and actionable warnings, and takes appropriate preventive and protective measures to protect our infrastructures and key assets.


Dec. 15, 2004

This page was last modified on 12/15/04 00:00:00