2012 Chemical Sector Security Summit: Theft and Diversion

At the 2012 Chemical Sector Security Summit I had the opportunity to attend the Theft and Diversion breakout session, which explored various chemical theft and diversion schemes as well as some of the measures companies are implementing to mitigate chemical theft and diversion. The Theft and Diversion panelists included Christina Hubert, Intelligence Analyst, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Ron Razzolini, Corporate Director of Security, PVS Chemicals, and Chris Gibson, EHS&R Manager, Hawkins, Inc.

Ms. Hubert opened the session by comparing two different cases of recent “lone wolf” terrorist attempting to obtain chemicals to use in an attack.

She first discussed Anders Breivik, who in July 2011, bombed a government building in Oslo, Norway killing 8 people, and subsequently went on a nearby shooting spree that killed another 69 people. Ms. Hubert described Breivik as a meticulous planner who did all the right things to obtain chemicals to build the bomb he used in the attack. For instance, he conducted extensive research to construct legitimate and believable stories as to why he was ordering the chemicals (e.g., needed sodium nitrate as a preservative to cure meat). He also made sure to order the chemicals in the right season so it did not seem suspicious.

She then compared Breivik to Khalid Aldawsari, the Saudi college student arrested last year in Texas on suspicion of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Ms. Hubert explained that Aldawsari did not spend the same amount of effort researching and planning as Breivik. As a result, when the chemical supplier questioned his order, he became frustrated, which further raised the supplier’s suspicions and ultimately caused it to report Aldawsari to the FBI.

Mr. Razzolini and Mr. Gibson then both described some of the measures their companies have put in place to prevent the theft, diversion or unauthorized acquisition of chemicals. For example, both have developed systems that place certain high-risk materials, such as Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Chemicals of Interest (COI), on hold until the order is reviewed and the customer’s use is confirmed. Additionally, neither company allows will-call pickups for most chemicals and every new customer’s shipping address must be verified with a personal site visit. These are simple – but extremely important – measures that all chemical distributors must take to keep dangerous materials out of the wrong hands.

Please visit the DHS website for more information on suspicious activity and chemical security incident reporting, including appropriate contact numbers.

You can also learn more about CFATS inspections by downloading the white paper: Surviving the CFATS Site Security Plan - Tips for Inspection & Resubmission.

Ryan Loughin is Director of Petro, Chemical & Energy Solutions for Tyco Integrated Security. He and his team have led many petrochemical security projects in North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Loughin has more than 14 years of experience in petrochemical and energy security and provides security education and services to CFATS (Chemical-Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards) and MTSA (Maritime Transportation Security Act) -affected companies. Loughin is a member of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA), Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), American Chemistry Council (ACC), Energy Security Council (ESC) and American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS). Loughin has worked with hundreds of MTSA and CFATS affected sites and has also provided guidance on many ACC Responsible Care Security Code projects.

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