Mitigating the Chemical Threat
Unrecognized customers showing up to buy chemicals, with little explanation of why, shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand as OK. Unreasonably large amounts of chemicals being purchased when much smaller amounts are the common amount purchased has caused the seller to contact law enforcement. He noted the reason behind a purchase might just be like the fans of a television show thinking they could manufacture exploding targets for target shooting, copying a person on TV, but the goal could be much worse.
Diversion can come in the form of an inside job when a company without a good employee hiring program has someone in a place that allows access to chemicals, Handke said. Straight theft can occur or a forged purchase order can result in shipping goods to an accomplice. There might be extra items shipped to a legitimate customer, and a telephone caller apologizes for the extra items being shipped; there is a promise that those extra items will be picked up, which happens by the accomplice of the crook/terrorist.
As shown in his examples, Handke said security of chemicals can often have nothing to do with whether COI is protected behind three layers of security—locked in a closet inside a locked building and inside a fenced area.
TOP DOWN AND BOTTOM UP
“Our mitigation of a chemical use threat is a top-down and bottom-up approach,” DelBagno said. From the top there is enforcement and education of large groups and associations to push information out on a national scale, and they do that in partnership with DHS and the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies.
“From the bottom up, we have our WMD (weapons of mass destruction) coordinators in each one of the 56 FBI field offices,” he explained.
“This is the person who you contact. Everything that we do at headquarters is conducted through them. They do the assessments and investigations and respond to WMD-related incidents,” DelBagno said. “They also do outreach to companies and associations that are regional based to provide awareness and training. The WMD coordinator is a conduit to the joint terrorism task force.
“If you don’t know him in your region, I strongly encourage you to reach out to him before an incident happens. You can find the contact information for your regional office on the FBI home page.”
DelBagno suggested making a cold call to the office and telling them that you want to talk to the WMD coordinator to make sure he has your name. “Start building that relationship ahead of time,” he said.
Handke said contacting local law enforcement and the FBI is the right first step in theft or diversion situations.
The FBI wants its outreach program to be an aspect of a company’s safety program. “What we are looking to do with our outreach is build that culture of thinking security when you are looking at the safety aspects of an operation,” DelBagno said.
Handke said almost exactly the same thing in suggesting it “is really important that when we talk to facility managers, we see a lot of what they do on a safety basis as good from a security basis.”
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