[About Sandia]
[Unique Solutions]
[Working With Us]
[Contacting Us]
[News Center]
[Search]
[Home]
[navigation panel]

[Sandia Lab News]

Vol. 53, No. 22        Nov. 2, 2001
[Sandia National Laboratories]

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-0165    ||   Livermore, California 94550-0969
Tonopah, Nevada; Nevada Test Site; Amarillo, Texas

Back to the Lab News home page

Lab s experts study chem plant security Sandia decon foam in action Labs well-poised to serve US in war on terror Sandia teams aid in targeting tests


Labs experts helping evaluate security at US chem plants

Back to topBack to Lab News home page.

By John German

Long before Sept. 11, Sandia was helping US government and industry shore up their defenses against terrorism, developing systematic ways to identify the security weaknesses of buildings, dams, drinking water supplies, and other possible targets.

Now experts in Security Systems and Technology Center 5800 are helping assess the security vulnerabilities of industrial facilities that manufacture, store, or transport hazardous chemicals.

As part of a project funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Labs physical security experts are developing a scientific vulnerability assessment methodology (VAM) that could be used to improve security at more than 10,000 US chemical facilities.

The project includes visiting several facilities, reviewing current security practices, and developing a set of recommendations about how security might be improved at US chemical plants to prevent terrorist attacks or blunt their effects.

Increasingly credible threat

The US Attorney General is to present Sandia's preliminary observations and recommendations in a report delivered to Congress by Dec. 21.

Project leader Cal Jaeger (5845) says most chemical plants currently employ security practices typical of those employed by other sectors of US industry.

Stephen Melvin of the Orange County (Calif.) Fire Authority's Hazardous Materials Services Section, who is helping Sandia on the VAM, says some chemical plants' risk management plans already focus on accident and sabotage scenarios, and these facilities are generally well prepared and equipped with safety controls to prevent or mitigate catastrophic releases to the environment. Others that may not have focused on sabotage scenarios might be less prepared.

"We already know what could go wrong," says Melvin. "But now we have to look more carefully at the likelihood of a terrorist causing it. Today these facilities are considered a credible target."

The project began in January, long before the recent wave of terrorist attacks, adds Cal. But since Sept. 11, there has been increased awareness of vulnerabilities not only of the physical security of the plants themselves but also of the transport of chemicals and of the cyber systems that control the plants, he says.

The Chemical Facility VAM will take a look at all of these threats, he says.

Reducing risk

Since January Labs experts have visited six US chemical plants, discussing each plant's operations with top executives and security managers and touring the plant sites with a terrorist's eye. They review security plans, study plant layouts and access controls, evaluate the use of security technologies, and gauge safety controls.

"We ask, if I am a bad guy, how would I do that," says Cal. "Then we evaluate the consequences and likelihood of each threat scenario."

They also have discussed the project with regulators, local law enforcement and emergency response authorities, and community groups. A key issue is how much information about a plant's security should be shared with local authorities.

The visits, along with the expertise of industry insiders such as Melvin, will form the basis of the finished VAM. More recent plant visits are providing chances to test the methodology.

In simplest terms, the VAM includes a characterization of the facility; an evaluation of the consequences if the plant is targeted; a determination of the attributes of the most likely threats; an evaluation of the effectiveness of the current security measures against the threat spectrum; a quantification of the risk as a function of likelihood, security effectiveness, and consequences; and a cost-benefit analysis of possible security upgrades.

"It will tell you how much you can improve your risk score given several options and their costs," says Cal.

The Chemical Facility VAM builds on methodologies developed to evaluate other infrastructure assets, such as dams, buildings, and water systems, says Gordon Smith, Manager of Public Safety Technologies Dept. 5861.

"We have a good foundation on which to create a prototype methodology," he says. "The long-term goal will be to create a methodology and documentation that is useful to plant owners and security managers after some training."

Having an advisor like Melvin on the team "gives us great ideas and provides a reality check so we can make this methodology as usable as possible by the people who will have to use it," he adds. -- John German

Back to topBack to Lab News home page.

Sandia-developed formulation among products being used to help rid US facilities of anthrax

Back to topBack to Lab News home page.

By John German

Sandia's decontamination formulation is among the products being used to help rid Capitol Hill buildings of anthrax.

Cleanup workers over the weekend used the formulation (often referred to as a decon foam) to decontaminate the postal room in the Ford Congressional office building in Washington, D.C. The postal room reopened Monday.

They also used the formulation to decon-taminate portions of the Dirksen Congressional Offices during remediation operations.

Two Sandians -- Larry Bustard and Mark Tucker (both 6245) -- were on site in Washington as technical advisors when the operations began.

The formulation also was used to decontaminate portions of ABC News' facilities in New York last week.

The foam was first used Oct. 12 at a Denver-area post office (Lab News, Oct. 19), but the white powder it was sprayed on later proved not to be dangerous.

Sandia licensed rights to commercialize the chem-bio formulation to two companies last year -- Modec, Inc. (Denver, Colo.) and EnviroFoam Technologies (Huntsville, Ala.) -- following a five-year research and development project at Sandia funded by the NNSA's Chemical and Biological National Security Program. (For more about the formulation's development, see www.sandia.gov/media/cbwfoam.htm.)

EnviroFoam Technologies (EFT) was contracted Oct. 22 to supply its version of the formulation to support the Environmental Protection Agency-led remediation effort on Capitol Hill.

Over the weekend the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory tested EFT's EasyDECON AB (anthrax blend). The test regimen, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), confirmed the effectiveness of EasyDECON against anthrax. (For more about the EasyDECON product, see EFT's web site at www.easydecon.com. For more about theMDF product, see Modec's web site at www.deconsolutions.com.)

Works against chem and bio agents

The Sandia-developed formulation, a cocktail that includes ordinary household substances such as those found in hair conditioner and toothpaste, neutralizes both chemical and biological agents in minutes. It can be applied to a contaminated surface as a liquid spray, mist, fog, or foam.

Traditional decontaminating products typically are based on bleach, chlorinated

solvents, or other hazardous or corrosive materials. Many are designed to work against only a limited number of either chemical or bio-

logical agents.

The Sandia formulation works against a wide variety of both chemical and biological agents and is nontoxic, noncorrosive, and environmentally friendly.

In multiple independent lab tests and military field trials, the formulation was effective against viable anthrax spores and chemical warfare agents. In lab tests at Sandia it also destroyed simulants of anthrax, simulants of chemical agents, vegetative cells, toxins, and viruses.

"It has performed well against biological agents as well as the most worrisome chemical warfare agents such as nerve and blistering agents," says Cecelia Williams (6245), a member of the development team.

Other Sandia team members include Rita Betty, Joanne Paul, and Caroline Souza (all 6245).

Foam co-developer Maher Tadros (Lab News, March 12, 1999) is now in the Advanced Concepts Group (16000). -- John German

Back to topBack to Lab News home page.

Labs well-poised to serve US in war on terror

Back to topBack to Lab News home page.

By William Murphy

Sandia, with its long history of systems engineering savvy and with several counterterrorism technologies in the R&D pipeline and in the marketplace, is well-poised to answer the nation's call in its time of need. And that's no coincidence: Labs Executive VP Joan Woodard said last week that Sandia's strategic planning going back several years has placed increasing importance -- and funding, via discretionary mechanisms such as Laboratory Directed Research and Development dollars -- on positioning Sandia to meet new unconventional threats to the nation's security.

In a briefing at Sandia for Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Joan offered an overview of the Labs technical capabilities and technologies that may have relevance in the nation's war on terrorism. Udall's was the latest in a series of briefings for members of the New Mexico congressional delegation. Previously, briefings were provided for Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.

Joan acknowledged that since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, "the phone's been ringing a lot" at Sandia as various government agencies contact the Labs to see if it can offer solutions to specific technical problems. Joan noted that other national laboratories have seen a similar increase in contacts.

Joan described how the Labs' research foundations -- computation and informational sciences, engineering sciences, materials and process science, microelectronics and photonics sciences, and pulsed power sciences -- can contribute solutions to a range of post-Cold War threat scenarios. Indeed, she said, the Labs' newly articulated vision statement, "Helping our nation secure a peaceful and free world through technology," is a logical extension of its Cold War nuclear weapons mission, one that seeks to leverage fully the research foundations that represent a 50-year investment by the nation's taxpayers.

Joan described under the heading "targets of terrorism" Labs capabilities in aviation security (work for the Federal Aviation Administration) and infrastructure protection (vulnerability-analysis software, architectural surety, and other protective/preventive technologies, many of which emerged out of Sandia's nonproliferation work.).

Under the heading of "means of terrorism," Joan described a number of Labs-developed counter-technologies: