Allesha Hickman
by on October 1, 2020

For centuries, war has involved the use of chemicals in the forms of both collateral damage and deliberate destruction. This century has seen a steady increase in adversaries attacking TIC targets and the percentage of civilian victims of war as well as an increase for damage caused by war. Moreover, a September 2004 New York Times editorial named targeting of industrial chemical facilities or intentional sabotage as one of the most urgent threats to our (American) safety. There are few reasons of such an assumption. Besides, there are several measures, which are able to prevent an intentional release of chemicals. Bhopal real-life chemical disaster of 1984 that caused a release from a chemical plant illustrates the potential effects of a terrorist attack and importance of its preventing.

The worst-case scenario for a terrorist attack on a domestic industrial chemical facility would result in up to 2.4 million people killed or injured, as calculated by the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Office. More than 15,000 facilities throughout the United States produce, store, and transport industrial chemicals in substantial quantities. In 1996, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined a worst-case release could endanger more than one million people located near one of the 123-identified facilities. Assessments proved that about 600 facilities could potentially threaten a million of people. About 2,000 facilities could potentially threaten 100,000 people.

There are few reasons of using TIC for a terrorist attack. Firstly, chemical agents may occur because it is easier to manufacture, access, and disperse them than standard military chemical agents. For instance, gas clouds, smoke, food, and medicine distribution networks can disperse them. Another big advantage of TIC is its visible impacts on health. Furthermore, TICs are unmatched in variety and accessibility. In fact, everyone, including regional powers, Third World nations, sub national organizations, terrorist groups, and individuals have immediate access to TICs. Besides, industrial chemicals do not have to be pure. For example, Aum Shinrikyo chemical attack in Yokohama proved that fact. In addition, TICs are less predictable weapons than traditional ones. Therefore, they are able to produce more damage that is beneficial to terrorists. Finally, TICs are used worldwide and cheaper than the average military agent is.

The effects of Indian tragedy in 1984 are terrible. At least 3,800 people died immediately and from 15,000 to 20, 000 had significant morbidity and premature death in the next two decades. The Indian government reported that more than half a million people were exposed to the gas. Therefore, it became one of the worst chemical disasters in history, and the name Bhopal became synonymous with industrial catastrophe.

Consequently, probability of a terrorist attack with using of TICs is very high in the United States, especially nowadays, when the country has become the prime target for international terrorists. However, all the competitors of the United States understand that it is too difficult to fight against the country in a traditional war. Therefore, they have to use weapons that are common in the different parts of the USA and do not attract much attention in advance. Besides, TICs are very convenient because there are different ways of exposing them. For example, terrorists’ attacks may occur because of industrial accidents, sabotage etc. In addition, a chemical release does not require any long-term training.

However, there are several reasonable measures to prevent an intentional release of chemicals. Firstly, specialists, who work with TICs need the training, leader development, and force development. Secondly, new materials about dealing with the threat must be developed. In other words, the most effective measure is standardization across services among combat and supporting organizations.

There is a high probability that terrorists will use a Toxic Industrial Chemical that is all ready in the United States instead of bringing one into the country. There are many facts that support this assumption. Firstly, 15,000 facilities throughout the United States produce, store, and transport industrial chemicals in substantial quantities. A terrorist attack on them would result in up to 2.4 million people killed or injured. Secondly, transportation from abroad would attract attention that is highly inconvenient for terrorists because modern enemies prefer to be hidden. They want to strike civilians where they live and work. Besides, TICs are very convenient due to their accessibility. It is much easier to obtain industrial chemicals than military chemicals. However, TICs could be effectively used (e.g., the war in Croatia) as a weapon, a means of harassment, or a means of gaining media attention. In addition, it is easy to disperse them. For example, gas clouds, smoke, food and medicine distribution networks can distribute them. Finally, they are cheaper than military chemicals and do not require purity. Nevertheless, a Toxic Industrial Chemic is able to produce horrible effects. For example, gas release in Bhopal in 1984 led to immediate death of 3,800 people. Almost 20,000 people had significant morbidity and premature death in the next two decades. However, there are measures that are able to prevent an intentional chemical release. For example, standardization across services and among combat and supporting organizations is able to deal with the threat.

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