Wednesday, June 02, 2004

For The Record

If Republican whoredom allows a catastrophe to happen that could have been prevented, may there never again be any Officeholder in this Country that calls themselves a "Republican".

Concerns rise over chemicals as targets
By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | June 1, 2004

WASHINGTON -- Homeland Security watchdogs call them "prepositioned weapons of mass destruction" for terrorists: huge tanks of concentrated deadly gases that the chemical industry stores near densely populated areas and that railroads bring through cities en route to somewhere else.

The United States harbors more than 100 chemical facilities where an accident would put more than a million people at risk, according to documents filed with the Environmental Protection Agency. One is in Boston: A chemical distributor acknowledged in its filing that in a worst-case scenario if a tank holding 180,000 pounds of vinyl acetate -- a highly flammable liquid -- ruptured, it would send a 4.9-mile-long toxic cloud through the city.

As federal security officials warn that Al Qaeda is poised to strike the United States again, the presence of these highly toxic chemicals in the midst of cities may be the most vulnerable point in the nation's defenses. But proposals to reduce that risk by requiring the use of alternative chemicals or rerouting hazardous tankers around a city have faltered.

Fear of such an attack on a chemical facility prompted bipartisan momentum in Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks for requiring the chemical industry to switch to less dangerous processes where possible. Although many Republicans supported the measure initially, many changed their minds after intense industry lobbying, and the bill died on the Senate floor.

Concerns rise over chemicals as targets

I know a bit about chemical weapons, having served as a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Operations NCO for five years. To execute a significant outdoor attack with them requires a large quantity and a means of dispersal. Despite what the scare-mongers would have you believe, chemical weapons aren't Death Rays killing all before them. It takes a large amount to establish a lethal concentration (the military, using artillery, seeks a 50% rate) and more to maintain it. Assuming the Terriers make or acquire a viable weapon it would only be effective in an enclosed area, unless they are able to position a few gun batteries outside a city and maintain a fairly spry rate of fire for a while.

What they CAN do is cause one or more massive releases of toxic materials that we thoughfully stockpile for them. Most of the chemical storage areas in this Country are protected by a chain link fence and a Rent-a-Cop. Many are approachable in small boats. To fail to adequately secure these facilities to at least make it harder to carry out an attack with potentially devastating consequences is insane. To fail to adequately secure these facilities because your buddies in the Chemical Industry don't want to spend any money should be criminal.

I'll debunk "dirty bombs" later...


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