The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has designated 7,000 sites at "high-risk" of terrorist attacks, according to CNN. The facilities include chemical plants, colleges and hospitals. The sites will be notified by letter this week, but they will not be made public.
The department compiled the list after reviewing information submitted by 32,000 facilities nationwide. It considered factors such as proximity to population centers, the volatility of chemicals on site and how the chemicals are stored and handled.
Experts long have worried that terrorists could attack chemical facilities near large cities, in essence turning them into large bombs. Experts say it is a hallmark of al Qaeda, in particular, to leverage a target nation's technological or industrial strength against it, as terrorists did in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
DHS started its process by identifying 320 "chemicals of interest," and then looked at the impact of a chemical release or explosion in each facility. The 7,000 high-risk sites will have 90 to conduct vulnerability assessments. DHS will then conduct additional assessments and help sites develop security plans.
Critics of the plan say that DHS should "require industry to move to fewer hazardous chemicals. They also say the department is relying on information provided by industry, instead of independently gathering information," according to the article.