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According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are 123 chemical facilities throughout the nation that could each threaten more than 1 million people, in addition to hundreds more that could put a large number of populations at risk. Many facilities are located in near large cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Should a serious chemical release occur, it will have significant impact on human health and environment. Moreover, tons of hazardous chemicals are transported through heavily populated areas everyday, increasing the chance of chemical terrorism.
Physicians for Social Responsibility advocates for the following policy positions to begin to address this risk:
- The Federal Government should immediately conduct a vulnerability assessment of chemical facilites in the United States
- In cases where possible, changing to chemical substances that are the safest available and reducing the amount of hazardous materials produced, stored, or transported should be the most reasonable answer for ultimate chemical security, i.e. to decapitate the possibility of weaponizing chemical facilities.
- In search of cost-effective solutions, the chemical industry needs to accept a certain level of government involvement in pursuing chemical security.
- Fund local emergency responders and FEMA to be able to adequetely coordinate an effective medical / public health response should a biological, chemical, radiological, nuclear or high-impact conventional weapon attack occur
These measures mark both a preventative and adaptive response to the risk of chemical terrorism in the United States.