My friends used to joke that my parents' house was more secure than Fort Knox. We had every door locked, never left windows open and kept the garage door shut even when we were home. Each door was equipped with an "alarm system" – the quotes are necessary because the alarm was more for show and sound than apprehending criminals. The system was a loud clanging bell that was triggered if someone tried to open the door without unlatching the chain. You could quickly turn off the alarm by moving a lever back in place. My friends never knew this because I always made a big deal about running to the phone to call the "security company" to give them our "code" and tell them it was a false alarm. It was all a ruse to perpetuate a secure perimeter.
Despite being low-tech, I suppose the alarm did its job. My parents' house was never the mark of thieves. After all, thieves want an easy target. And, given the many kids who traipsed through our home, I'm certain the word got out that the Purdums had an alarm system.
While theft is a major issue for chemical facilities, an even bigger deal is an attack that could jeopardize safety for workers and the surrounding areas and compromise national security. Do you have alarms in place? Are you up-to-date on the latest information regarding the U.S.'s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) and the Maritime Transportation Security Act?
To ensure our readers are privy to this information, in 2010 we teamed up with ADT to give you the Chemical Security Action Blog. The blog features principal contributor Ryan Loughin, director of petrochemical and energy solutions for the Advanced Integration division of ADT.
Topics range from the basics about CFATS tier rankings and compliance steps to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warnings aimed at helping chemical facilities remain secure and competitive and to keep the country safe from terrorists.
The blog is a great way to keep your ear to the ground. A recent post covered a DHS report warning major utilities and critical infrastructure operators, such as chemical plants and oil refineries, that "violent extremists" have obtained insider positions and might use those positions to conduct physical and cyber attacks on behalf of Al Qaeda. Another post informed readers about a warning from the FBI about a scam. Apparently two U.S.-based chemical companies received letters from someone claiming to be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III. The fraudulent letters asked that the companies send $350 to the DHS to pay for a "Clearance Certificate."
The blog also functions as a warehouse for news regarding Chemical of Interest notices. An extremely popular post noted that the DHS published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for an Ammonium Nitrate Security Program that would regulate the sale and transfer of ammonium nitrate – a known component of homemade bombs.
The first step toward a secure facility: understanding the risks you face. Here's to keeping you in the loop and out of the soup.
Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing's senior digital editor. If you are wondering, she still keeps all her doors and windows locked. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.