Friday, April 10, 2015

Eight Year Anniversary

LinkedIn recently posted a work anniversary notice for my time with Chemical Facility Security News; noting that I have been ‘working’ here for eight years. It seems like an appropriate time to look at that history.


I actually started blogging on November 14th, 2006 shortly after I was laid off from my long term (12+ years) process chemist job. I was using the blogging facility at (I know most of you have never heard of it). It was pretty much a free form blog providing me with an outlet for my need to write.

There is no trace of that blog on MySpace any more, but it was an eclectic combination of topics reflecting my wide ranging interests. I was out of work, but was still receiving a paycheck as part of my separation package. I was in no hurry to go back to work and wanted to see if I could find a subject matter that would allow me to work as a full time freelance writer.

I wrote about the construction of the International Space Station, new technology (including 3D printers back in 2006), politics, and, of course, chemical facility security. My first blog on that topic was a two part blog on protecting chemical plants from terrorist attacks posted on January 29th, 2007. This was shortly after I found the announcement for the newly proposed CFATS regulations.

I date the start of Chemical Facility Security News as being April 5th, 2007 when I wrote my first blog post on the publication of the first draft of Appendix A, 6 CFR 27.  This was my first real detailed look at the CFATS program and it set the tone for this blog.

AOL Blog

More and more of my MySpace blog was becoming related to the new CFATS program and I started looking for a place to start a long term look at that program. In July of 2007 I established a chemical security web site on the AOL Communities platform. Along with a number of web pages about the CFATS program I formal started Chemical Facility Security News as a full time blog focused on chemical security matters.

This blog ran on the AOL platform for just over 15 months and 450 posts. AOL shut down their Communities platform in October of 2008 ending my first chemical security web site and forcing me to move my blog. Fortunately, AOL had worked out some sort of deal with Google to allow all of the blog posts on their engine to be transferred to Google’s BlogSpot platform. I couldn’t find any other platform that afforded that opportunity to preserve the AOL posts, so I switched to Google.


Thanks to Google, my original Chemical Facility Security News posting is still available. It was nothing spectacular, not even a decent PR release. There were some formatting issues with the switch over. I have not gone back and fixed most of those as most readers don’t go back looking at old blog posts. As I learn that people are looking at particular posts from that ‘era’ I do go back and take care of the formatting issue for those specific posts.

Over the years I have added various pages to the site. They are all ways that readers can find links to posts I have written on various topics.

Expanded Coverage

I started out intending to write mainly about the new CFATS program, but quickly began expanding my coverage to include posts about chemical incidents which led to a general coverage of chemical safety. Chemical facility computer systems were part of CFATS, but I generally expanded my coverage of that topic to industrial control system security issues which is now a major topic on this blog.

Responding to potential terrorist attacks was a natural area of coverage for my blog. It soon expanded into coverage of chemical emergency response matters. This is also now a major topic that I cover.

I have covered legislative and regulatory matters that apply to chemical security from the first. Since my first job in the chemical industry had me working with hazmat shipping regulations, I also started covering that regulatory arena as well.

Other Outlets

Over the last eight years I have provided chemical facility security coverage to other outlet besides just this blog. I have ghost written blog posts for two other blogs. I have provided blog content under my name to Dale Peterson’s DigitalBond blog on cybersecurity. And I have been interviewed a number of times on chemical security issues by a number of reporters.

In January 2009 I was contacted by the Editor of the Journal of Hazmat Transportation to see if I would write chemical security articles for his magazine. That quickly expanded into coverage of legislative and regulatory matters on hazmat shipping. That relationship continued through 2013 when my day job began to interfere with meeting publication deadlines.

Social Media

In January of 2009 I expanded my on-line presence into other social media outlets. I began by announcing my blog posts on TWITTER® and LinkedIn® as a means of expanding my readership and providing my readers with a way to keep up to date on my blog without having to go to it every day. I realized that many people would only be interested in my posts on specific topics of interest to them. If there were an easy way to see when those topics came up, they would be more likely to return to my site.

Twitter rapidly became more than just an advertising mechanism for my blog posts. It has become a source of information and ideas for blog posts (I favor following folks that post links to interesting articles). It also provides me with an outlet for commentary on topics that are not really appropriate to my blog or making brief ‘pithy’ comments about topics about which I don’t have either the time or the inclination to write a full blog post.

Posting links to my blog posts on various Groups on LinkedIn has provided another way for people to respond to those posts. Many people who would never think of posting a comment to the actual blog (there is way too much noise in the comments section of so many blogs, something I have tried hard to avoid) feel much more comfortable posting comments where they are seen by people of similar professional backgrounds. I have had many interesting discussions in these fora.

Moving Forward

I have greatly enjoyed these eight years as the owner, editor and only writer for Chemical Facility Security News. And I hope to continue this blog for many more years.

1 comment:

Laurie Thomas said...

Patrick, thank you for a very interesting history of how this blog originated. I started my blog (on a much more narrow topic) because I saw how useful a well-designed informational blog could be. Please continue to keep up the excellent work for at least another eight years!

Laurie Thomas

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