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December Is Critical Infrastructure Protection Month

By Ryan Loughin, on December 14, 2010

The President has declared the month of December as “Critical Infrastructure Protection Month.” As with most of these things it is mainly ceremonial but it does serve to emphasize the importance of protecting our country’s assets against terrorism and acts of violence. And it also brings to the public’s attention the work that is being done to protect our country and its citizens.

According to DHS, “Critical Infrastructure is defined by federal law as systems and assets whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.” The Department has identified 18 critical infrastructure sectors, as diverse as agriculture and food, emergency services, and cyber networks.”

Of course, one of those sectors is chemical. The chemical industry fits the description of being vitally important to the United States because it produces such a vast number of the products that either we use every day or are used in the production of those products. Also because of the potential use of chemicals for destructive or terrorist activities, it becomes even more crucial that we put increased security and safety around our chemical plants and facilities.

There is another very important aspect of “Critical Infrastructure Protection Month” that the President mentioned in his proclamation. He said that the responsibility for protecting these assets falls to the federal, state and local governments working with private business and enterprise. DHS has also been very careful in its roll out of CFATS to emphasis the need for facilities to work with local and regional law enforcement and emergency agencies, as well as the department. One of the most effective things a facility can do is to set up a relationship with local authorities.

The proclamation for this month encourages business and local and regional government agencies to work with the federal government on training and drill activities for the protection of critical infrastructure. It goes back to the old adage that “Security is everyone’s job.” It really does take a partnership. If your facility has started working with local law enforcement and emergency agencies, I would be interested in hearing what you’ve done. How is it working and what have you learned? We certainly can all learn from each other.

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