Port of Catoosa beefs up security as a precautionary measure

Wednesday, September 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

US Attorney General John Ashcroft says future terrorist attacks might include trucks carrying hazardous chemicals. The federal government has already grounded crop dusters twice after learning that suspected terrorists had expressed an interest in using them.

Now the FBI is also urging all truck drivers who haul explosive or hazardous materials to be on the look out for anything suspicious. Tulsa's emergency managers train for chemical and biological attacks. The plans take into account how terrorists might get chemicals and what effect they might have if released in a city.

News on Six reporter Emory Bryan says the Port of Catoosa has the single greatest concentration of chemicals of any site, anywhere around Tulsa. Some are benign, some toxic. Bob Portiss with the Tulsa Port of Catoosa: "We handle as you know by virtue of the arsine out here, some toxic chemicals, could those be a source for a terrorist attack, I don't know, I suppose that's possible." That's why the port, without any official word from the government, has beefed up security to keep thieves out. “Asked all our industry to take additional steps for security, like being sure your gates are locked, we've had at least one facility that's added security at night."

The port's management is confident with security, and has recently changed how it responds to disaster. After a chemical leak earlier this year, new sirens were installed to improve emergency communications for the port. The leak at Solkotronics tested chemical disaster plans for the city. Roger Jolliff with the City of Tulsa's Emergency Management: "That was a good test, that was really a good exercise of our communication plan to see how we're going to work with others to solve a problem." The accident was a model for a sudden release of a toxic material with a high number of potential victims.

While emergency planners worry about bad accidents, they now know the worst scenarios are those that involve desperate people, willing to kill by whatever means necessary.