RealNews

Concerns rise over chemicals as targets

Homeland Security watchdogs call them “prepositioned weapons of mass destruction” for terrorists: huge tanks of concentrated deadly gases that the chemical industry stores near densely populated areas and that railroads bring through cities en route to somewhere else. The United States harbors more than 100 chemical facilities where an accident would put more than a million people at risk, according to documents filed with the Environmental Protection Agency. One is in Boston: A chemical distributor acknowledged in its filing that in a worst-case scenario if a tank holding 180,000 pounds of vinyl acetate — a highly flammable liquid — ruptured, it would send a 4.9-mile-long toxic cloud through the city. As federal security officials warn that Al Qaeda is poised to strike the United States again, the presence of these highly toxic chemicals in the midst of cities may be the most vulnerable point in the nation’s defenses. But proposals to reduce that risk by requiring the use of alternative chemicals or rerouting hazardous tankers around a city have faltered. Full Story

OODA Analyst

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