Color my world

March 1, 2003 By    

Having spent my entire life in northern Ohio, I thought the color orange would forever signify the splendor of the autumn foliage, the frustration of road construction barrels and the exhilaration (and too frequent disappointment) of our beloved Cleveland Browns.

But growing concerns over another terrorist attack last month introduced a whole new meaning. The nation’s new five-step, color-coded system indicating the risk of terrorist attack was raised from “yellow” to “orange” ­ the second-highest alert level in the system.

Upgrading the terror alert triggered tighter security at borders, airports and hotels. Officials also urged greater vigilance by all Americans.

The orange alert lasted less than two weeks before being downgraded back to yellow. But just 12 days of orange was enough to send panicky Americans rushing to their nearest home improvement store for the duct tape and plastic sheeting that U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says would protect us from chemical or biological weapons used against us.

He also urged the nation’s governors to heighten security measures at all critical infrastructure points. Meanwhile, the National Propane Gas Association released a security report and white paper detailing the guidance, education and training recommendations for our industry to address its security risk as a likely terrorist target. NPGA spent more than a year assessing the industry’s vulnerability to intentional acts of destruction in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

A complete copy of the security report is available on the association’s website at Among its recommendations, NPGA officials say propane plant operators should take the following steps when the national
alert reaches orange status:

  • Allow only scheduled visitors and deliveries and verify the legitimacy
    of visiting customers;
  • Advise employees to be more vigilant and report suspicious behavior;
  • Control access to areas of concern within the facility.
  • When the plant is unattended ­ such as nights or weekends ­ the
    following precautions also should be observed:
  • Lock plant gates;
  • Close valves on all primary liquid and vapor lines;
  • Lock all placarded vehicles, with keys stored and secured in a safe area.
  • If the government issues a red alert ­ its highest alert, indicating
    an imminent attack ­ plant operators should:
  • Advise drivers that delivery vehicles are to be returned to a predetermin-ed,
    secure area at the end of their shift;
  • Limit site access to one entrance;
  • Increase facility surveillance;
  • Inspect incoming transport vehicles prior to permitting ingress;
  • Require drivers to check in with an authorized company representative at
    periodic intervals.

As a hazardous material industry, we can’t always predict, but we can prepare. Our diligence could well be a front-line protection to the safety of individuals and families in communities across the nation. It’s a responsibility that every business must never take too lightly.

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