New Jersey becomes first state to require stronger chemical security

New Jersey has become the first state in the nation to require security assessments for chemical plants — assessments blocked at the federal level by industry and Republican lawmakers. The new rules call for the state’s 140-odd chemical plants to evaluate potential security risks and report plans for addressing them. Forty-three facilities using especially dangerous chemicals will also have to investigate reducing or ending their reliance on such materials. Despite post-9/11 awareness that the densely populated state’s chemical facilities are prime terrorist targets — one stretch of facilities near Newark has been termed the most vulnerable two miles in the country by federal authorities — New Jersey’s $27 billion chemical industry has fiercely resisted state-mandated security measures. It’s squawking about the new regulations, even while some activists say the rules are largely based on industry recommendations and too weak to be meaningful anyway.