Today the DHS Infrastructure Security Compliance Division posted a brief notice on the CFATS Knowledge Center about a new study that DHS has contracted with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to perform. The Academies will produce a report entitled “Reducing the Threat of Improvised Explosive Device Attacks by Restricting Access to Chemical Explosive Precursors” as a result of this study.
The notice describes the study this way:
“Under the oversight of the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology at the Academies, an ad hoc committee will identify and prioritize a list of chemicals that have been used either in the U.S. or internationally or are susceptible for use in IEDs, analyze how the priority chemicals move through commercial supply chains, assess existing control measures for the priority chemicals, and suggest controls that might be effective for a voluntary or regulatory strategy.”
Part of the reason for this study is the problem that ISCD is having in establishing a cost-effective regulatory strategy for the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program that the Department was directed to implement by Congress. While ammonium nitrate is the improvised explosive device precursor that is best known by the general public, there are a number of other chemicals that have been used frequently by ‘modern’ terrorists in preparing IEDs. Among the most common are chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, acetone and nitric acid.
The CFATS program tried to address these IED precursor chemicals in their list of DHS Chemical of Interest (COI; Appendix A to 6 CFR 27), but there has not been an effective, formal study of what chemicals could be (and have been) used to make effective IEDs and what types of cost effective controls could be used to restrict access to those chemicals by terrorists. The point of this study is to fill that knowledge gap.
The notice describes the conduct of the study this way:
“A committee of approximately 14 experts from chemical and engineering disciplines will be appointed by the Academies drawing members from the academic, industrial, and national lab sectors. Expertise on the committee will include the following areas: chemistry, energetic materials, commercial supply chain operations, security, and law enforcement.”
The Academies have already established a web site to support the study. That web page provides a little more detail on how the ad hoc committee will approach this task. They provide a basic five step study process:
1. Review the available literature and data, both U.S. and international, to identify and list chemicals that have been used either in the U.S. or internationally or are susceptible for use in IEDs. For chemicals found to be currently used in IEDs, identify these chemicals in order of the most widely used to the least used.
2. For each of the listed chemicals, analyze how the chemical moves through commercial supply chains. Assess the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the supply chains with respect to susceptibility to theft and diversion of the chemical.
3. Using the information obtained in Steps 1 and 2 to develop a priority ranking of chemicals to consider for control and discuss the criteria used.
4. Describe and assess existing control measures, both in the U.S. and internationally, for the priority chemicals, including vulnerabilities in the existing framework of voluntary and regulatory controls.
5. Suggest controls that might be effective for a voluntary or regulatory strategy and discuss the tradeoffs between factors such as economics, cost, security, and impact on commerce.
Call for Nominations
The Committee will consist of approximately 14 individuals that will be appointed by the Academies. The individuals will come from the following disciplines:
• Energetic materials;
• Commercial supply chain operations;
• Security; and
• Law enforcement
The Academies are soliciting nominations to serve on the Committee. Nominations should be submitted by August 22, 2016.