Security and Vulnerability Assessment Revealed

Security threats can come from internal or external adversaries. Internal threats include disgruntled employees and/or contractors, or employees forced into cooperation by threat of extortion or violence. External sources include criminals, extremists or terrorists. 

The most important objective of an adversary, next to successfully completing the mission, is not being detected. Detection usually results in a failed mission. Because the external adversaries may not need to enter your plant, there are few mitigation options for increasing the likelihood of detection prior to the attack. Furthermore, as a recent article in USA Today The Forum states, “Terrorists focus on simple means [to avoid detection]. They are going to use stuff that’s available.” We need to think like terrorists if we want to prevent an attack. “We’re looking for this big, magical attack, and the terrorists are looking for stuff that’s already in the environment.”

Some chemical companies have already decided that protecting their assets from attack by armed combatants with military caliber weapons is the responsibility of government and local authorities. Furthermore, coupled with the terrorist’s desire to be unobtrusive, such a scenario is not a high priority for prevention. Given that a chemical plant became the target, a more plausible scenario is the detonation of an SUV filled with ammonium nitrate and distillate fuel oil next to a storage tank. This only requires stuff that is already in the local environment.

Why is SVA Important?

While the likelihood of the terrorist threat is arguable, the consequences for a company aside from the obvious losses, could be quite harsh. Firstly, any significant emergency response effort due to a chemical plant attack would become a news media event. This guarantees high visibility. Secondly, if it were learned that the company had completely ignored the security risk and was unprepared, there would be a public outcry. [In addition, the industry has already been drawn into homeland security initiatives, whether it likes it or not]. So chemical and energy companies need to address the risk to some extent, but how much is the ongoing debate.

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