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Matthew Quirk, author of the book Dead Man Switch, highlighted major security flaws in the storage of chemicals in the United States in a recent Washington Post article. As part of research for his latest book, Quirk personally visited a chemical facility, easily bypassing security through to the explosive hydrogen tanks, and additionally breaking into the tank storage area without being stopped. The lack of security at these facilities puts major urban areas at risk, he argues. The rupture of one tanker car of chlorine gas could impact 4.9 million and kill 10,000 in Los Angeles in a worst-case scenario. Twelve million would be in the toxic-release zone of a chlorine plant in New York City.

(Lode Van de Velde) Examine of chemical storage plants

GRI Founding Director Stephen Flynn was quoted in Quirk’s article, saying, “The Bush administration put all their eggs in the ‘take the battle to the enemy’ basket, asserting that ‘the only defense is offense’,” and “This translated into homeland security being a decidedly secondary priority and their making only a token effort to advance critical infrastructure security.” He further commented, pointing to the 2002 National Strategy for Homeland Security, “America’s critical infrastructure remains extremely vulnerable to sabotage and the consequences of a successful attack against assets such as chemical facilities remain potentially catastrophic.”

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