Properly Protect Your Plant's Perimeter

Advances in security technology ease the task and make good business sense.

By Ryan Loughin, ADT Advanced Integration

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Over the past decade, chemical and petrochemical facilities have seen an increase in security-related regulations. The Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), signed into law in 2002, had been under development prior to 9/11 but its initial focus on preventing crime, cargo theft and smuggling was expanded to address the threat of terrorism. Legislation mandating Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) to ensure the safety and security of chemical manufacturing, storage, usage and distribution channels was signed into law in 2007.

As a result of these regulations, chemical facilities are legally obligated to comply with specific security performance standards. MTSA is a broad-based regulation applying to various types of businesses, not just chemical ones, that operate on waterways. CFATS mandates security measures depending upon whether a site falls into one of four risk tiers that correlate with chemicals of interest (COI), standard threshold quantities and location.

Each facility poses unique challenges and risks. So, there's no one-size-fits-all security solution. That said, many companies with multiple facilities have introduced corporate security standards to streamline operations and ensure sites maintain expected security practices.

Fortunately, numerous advances in physical security technology have emerged and offer cost-effective options for chemical and petrochemical facilities; solutions formerly only available to the government and military are becoming more affordable for industrial use. These advances have brought significant savings, especially for perimeter security — enabling sites to rely less on security officers and cut operational expenses.

A security risk assessment is the first step to assessing a facility's needs and creating a sound yet cost-effective strategy factoring in both upfront and ongoing expenses (see sidebar at the end of this article). Risk assessment identifies security vulnerabilities and thus enables developing appropriate recommendations to secure a site and comply with applicable regulations.
For facilities covered by CFATS, perimeter protection and detection solutions specifically must help satisfy Risk-Based Performance Standards (RBPS) 1 —"Restrict Area Perimeter" and RBPS 4 — "Deter, Detect and Delay." Waterfront facilities regulated by MTSA face additional complications because perimeter security technologies must decipher between the constant movement of water and movements made by potential intruders. Advances in fiber-based technology, thermal imaging/infrared (IR), analytics software and remote video have created more robust and affordable solutions.

Fiber-based technology. This is one of several top perimeter-detection solutions. Available to commercial markets for the better part of a decade, fiber technology can be integrated into walls, rooftops, razor wire and, most importantly, fences — the true first line of physical defense. Some hardened fences now include prebuilt channels for fiber intrusion detection (Figure 1). These "smart perimeters" sense vibrations and attempted intrusion and also differentiate among environmental noise, wildlife and actual human activity. Fiber technology now can distinguish between types of human movement, such as cutting versus climbing. Several fiber-based detection systems are immune to the effects of radio transmissions and magnetic fields, can tolerate rapidly changing and unpredictable environmental conditions, and robustly resist wind and rain.

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