Former NJ pushes for tougher chemical industry standards

Former N.J. Governor Christie Whitman, a former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is urging the federal government to push the chemical industry to safeguard against terrorist attacks.

Whitman wants the EPA to force facilities that handle dangerous and toxic chemicals to improve their security measures and reduce overall hazards, according to

"People's lives are at stake, and it doesn't have to be a grand al-Qaeda plot," Whitman said, reports. "We've already seen in the last few year we have home-grown nut cases that can do these kind of things, and these facilities are enormously vulnerable."

In response, the New Jersey Chemical Council, a chemical industry interest group, said that more regulations are unneeded. Hal Bozarth, the NJCC executive director, said existing programs are already in place to regulate hazards. He noted that in New Jersey alone, chemical companies have spent more than $1 billion dollars to strengthen their facilities against terrorist attacks.

As head of the EPA, Whitman tried to tighten federal regulations of the chemical industry, but was blocked by the Bush administration.

"This is an issue, for me, is enormously frustrating and troubling,'' Whitman said, reports. "Just imagine if terrorists targeted facilities. The consequences of something happening is just so devastating."