From Charleston Gazette:

After the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., a decade ago, the Kanawha Valley’s chemical industry went on high alert.

Security guards made additional sweeps around plant fence-lines. Inspections of delivery trucks increased. Emergency boats patrolled the Kanawha River.

Chemical company officials warned that huge stockpiles of toxic chemicals were a likely target for further terror attacks.

Federal and state government officials responded by making information about such facilities — what kinds of materials they store and in what quantities — more difficult for the public to obtain. Secrecy was needed, industry and regulators agreed, to avoid giving terrorists roadmaps to attractive targets.

But 10 years later, the nation has yet to adopt a comprehensive anti-terrorism program for chemical plants, despite strong backing from environmental groups and labor organizations.

So far, Congress has passed only temporary legislation that leaves out what many plant safety advocates say is the most important piece of the puzzle: Forcing companies to use less-toxic materials that would not only be less appealing to terrorists but also be generally safer for workers, plant neighbors and the environment.

“Legislation must be passed to improve chemical industry workplace safety and security,” James Frederick, assistant safety director for the United Steelworkers union, told Congress in March. “We believe that this is absolutely necessary to properly protect communities.

Long before the twin towers fell on 9/11, Kanawha Valley chemical plants worried about terrorist attacks. A decade earlier, plants remained security conscious for months, fearing attacks in response to U.S. military involvement in the Persian Gulf War.

More.

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