Environment Directorate

OECD Governments Step up Co-operation to Guard Against Chemicals Terrorism


03/07/2003 - OECD governments are to review ways of exchanging and publicising information about chemical security as part of a drive to protect citizens in the face of possible terrorist attacks on chemicals installations.

An OECD Working Group on Chemical Accidents will meet in November to discuss how to implement recommendations from a recent OECD workshop held in Rome, co-sponsored by the United Nations organisations which deal with chemicals management (the World Health Organisation, the United Nations environment Programme, the International Maritime Organisation, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) and NATO and hosted by the Italian Interior Ministry.

The workshop brought together 120 experts from OECD and non-OECD countries to discuss experiences on disclosure of information and communicating with the public on risks to chemical installations in the face of threats of deliberate chemical releases. Discussions focused in particular on weighing the need for risk communication to people living or working near chemical plants against the potential risk that terrorists may use this information to prepare attacks involving chemicals.

The experts concluded that:

  • Governments should increasingly share chemical security information on preparedness and response to chemical threats;
  • Enterprises and governments should communicate with the public on the possible effects of chemical releases caused by deliberate acts.  Decision-making concerning how to deal with this kind of  risk should improve  prevention, preparedness and response;
  • Authorities should establish processes to be able to determine whether disclosure of information about certain chemical operations would reduce or increase the risk of terrorism using these operations;
  • Countries should train, in co-operation with the relevant intergovernmental organisations, those involved in responding to deliberate chemical releases in the principles of health risk communication.

The OECD Working Group on Chemical Accidents will meet in Paris on 5-7 November 2003 to decide on practical courses of action in response to these recommendations. For further information, journalists are invited to contact Marie-Chantal Huet in the OECD’s Environment Directorate (tel. 33 1 45 24 79 03). 

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