DHS is Working Globally to Keep Dangerous Chemicals Safe

Some of you might have seen the recent news about Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's campaign to work with America's allies on securing the global supply chain. In an exclusive interview with FOX News she called for closer monitoring of shipments of everyday legal substances that can be used to make weapons. She included not only chemicals weapons, but also biological and radiological based ones. The focus of her concern is 14 "precursor" chemicals that are legal for purchase, but have been the cause of great concern in countries like Afghanistan.

Ammonium nitrate is a common element used in fertilizer and is also used in more than 80 percent of the homemade bombs put together by insurgents in Afghanistan. Monitoring these chemicals throughout the supply chain could help to limit their availability and save lives.

Napolitano and DHS are working with the World Customs Organization (WCO) to bring organizations and countries together on the issue of supply chain security. Project Global Shield is a joint effort by DHS, WCO, INTERPOL and UN Office of Drugs and Crime and has more than 60 nations sharing information with each other to make sure that chemicals moving throughout the globe are being used safely and legally.

Napolitano says that DHS is committed to working with customs agencies and shipping companies on a global basis to keep precursor chemicals out of the hands of terrorist. Apparently recent efforts and investigations have led to a number of leads and the interception of suspicious shipments. She said that in 2011 her department will be working with U.S. international partners to strengthen efforts through the implementation of cargo screening standards throughout the world and the deployment of high technology to help better track and detect dangerous chemicals.

I find all of this very interesting. It is a logical step on the part of DHS. The CFATS and MTSA programs are well under way in the U.S. and making real progress toward the goal of strengthening and hardening our critical infrastructure. So, since we are a global society with worldwide commerce it only make sense for us to reach out to our allies and other trading partners to put in place global measure to secure our supply chain and keep dangerous materials out of the hands of terrorist.

Secretary Napolitano also says that DHS will create a first-of-its-kind center to coordinate all of the U.S. government's efforts to control the transportation and shipment of dangerous substances. This is a needed step because many of the chemicals we are talking about are used in our everyday lives here in the U.S. They can be found in labs, hospitals, farms and even beauty supply companies.

Napolitano has been traveling throughout the Middle East and Europe with her message about increased security and strength for the global supply chain. It is hoped that we will see some real progress and change in the coming year.



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