For different U.S. congressional committees heard testimony
last week from Mike Lindell, professor of urban planning at Texas
A&M University, regarding the vulnerability of the nation’s
chemical infrastructure to terrorist attacks.
Lindell, a senior scholar at the university’s Hazard Reduction & Recovery
Center, was joined May 23 in Washington D.C. by Dorothy Zolandz,
director of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Board on Chemical
Science and Technology. The duo previewed the findings of their
NAS study, “Terrorism and the Chemical Infrastructure:
Protecting People and Reducing Vulnerabilities,” which
was released two days later.
In four different hour-long presentations, they met with the
Senate Governmental Affairs and Homeland Security Committee,
the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the House
Homeland Security Committee, and the House Science Committee.
The report, which took over a year and a half to complete, was
commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science
and Technology Directorate to recommend research priorities for
minimizing the societal impact of attacks on the chemical industry.
The committee strongly recommended investments in emergency
preparedness in general and social science research in particular.
“I was mildly surprised and very pleased that a committee,
whose members were mostly physical scientists and engineers,
would give such a strong endorsement to social science research,” Lindell
said. “There seems to be increasing recognition that chemical
production, transportation, and consumption is a ‘sociotechnical’ system,
not just a technical system. Over the years, many more physical
scientists and engineers have realized that they need to work
with social scientists to manage complex systems.”
The NAS Press will provide printed copies of the report available
later this summer.