October 17, 2013 by Vance Taylor
Last week, the Center for Effective Government (CEG), a government watchdog organization, posted details online from Risk Management Plans of water and wastewater utilities and other facilities that store chlorine. In short, they posted a comprehensive list of how much chlorine utilities have onsite and provided the specific coordinates of where they are stored.
While the posting of such security sensitive information in one place is technically legal, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have intentionally avoided doing so in order to minimize the risk that bad actors will use the information for nefarious purposes.
With that in mind, I’d like to pose the following questions to the CEG:
1. Do you really think it’s wise to publicly post a comprehensive list of such security sensitive information?
2. Did you question whether providing such broad access to this data would increase or decrease the likelihood that “bad guys” would be empowered to steal or tamper with the chlorine supplies used by our nation’s water service providers?
3. If, as you say, chlorine gas poses a “major risk across the country,” is citing the geographic coordinates of canisters, containers and railcars your way of attempting to reduce that risk?
I understand and appreciate the need for transparency, but all of this information, while already available in the public domain, has never before been put on a single website with an interactive map. Throwing it out there with such disregard for the potential consequences to public safety undermines our nation’s security. It also comes across as the irresponsible tantrum of an organization committed to banning the use of chlorine and willing to use reckless fear tactics as a means to furthering their agenda.