Monday, April 2, 2007

Terror, terror, everywhere

This report appeared on Sunday: Rail lines in Tucson could be terror bait by Enric Volante Arizona Daily Star 04/01/07. It reports:

More than 1,600 rail tanker loads of poisonous gas vulnerable to terrorist attack roll through Tucson in a year, potentially threatening most of the city.

A chlorine disaster could kill people up to 5.6 miles downwind of Union Pacific Railroad in Tucson.

In a less-likely or "worst-case" scenario in which the weather and other conditions are ideal for toxic terrorism, the deadly fog could maim and kill up to 9.6 miles away, newly disclosed emergency-planning documents show.
So, is this a real threat? Or excessive fear after years of vague hype about the "global war on terror"? A publicity campaign by some homeland-security company selling whatever you might use to detect whatever some terrorist might do to unleash a whole trainful of chlorine gas into the air at perfect weather conditions? Lobbying by state and/or local governments for bigger federal grants? A ploy by homeowners associations to stall a planned Union Pacific rail expansion?

The article does mention, "The chemical industry is scrambling to design rail cars less likely to break open if they derail." That would be "scrambling" in response to the 9/11 attacks of, uh, five and a half years ago? I don't object to the idea of more durable rail cars for chemicals. But it's a reminder that we don't have a national effort to realisticly examine priority anti-terrorism measures. And who in the Cheney-Bush administration could we trust to tell us the truth about them, anyway?

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