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New Security Mandated for Chemical Plants

New Jersey became the first state in the nation this week to demand that chemical plants take greater measures to protect themselves and the public from terrorist attacks and catastrophic accidents, prompting criticism from industry leaders.

New Jersey became the first state in the nation this week to demand that chemical plants take greater measures to protect themselves and the public from terrorist attacks and catastrophic accidents, prompting criticism from industry leaders.

The Chemistry Council of New Jersey, which represents about 100 manufacturers, blasted the new mandatory standards as unnecessary. Spokeman Elvin Montero told "Newsday" that the industry has already acted to secure itself since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "Here you have an industry that has been cooperating with the state and acting on our own," he said. "Prior to 9/11, we were working on this, and since then we've spent over $100 million doing it. They are ending a spirit of cooperation by mandating things."

The new security requirements announced by acting Gov. Richard J. Codey state that New Jersey's 140 chemical plants have 120 days to complete a review of vulnerabilities and hazards that might be exploited by terrorists. The review must cover security systems and access to the premises, security measures outside the perimeter, storage and processing of potentially hazardous materials, employee and contractor background checks, and information and computer system security. Companies that do not comply face monetary penalties.

According to a Congressional Research Service study, New Jersey has seven chemical plants where a terrorist attack or catastrophic accident could kill more than 1 million people.

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