Chemical Sector

Chemical facilities in New Jersey manufacture, store, and transport chemicals to customers in multiple critical infrastructure sectors. The facilities are all privately owned and operated. According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, there are approximately 200 private sector chemical facilities in New Jersey. The State does not own any chemical facilities.

The business of chemistry is essential to New Jersey’s economy because it employs approximately 50,000 people and contributes to 96 percent of all manufactured goods in the United States.

The US Department of Homeland Security’s Sector Specific Plan requires owners and operators in the Chemical Sector to establish security, business continuity, and emergency response plans to mitigate risk. The highest-risk facilities are subject to the security regulations of multiple federal and state agencies.

Threat

Cyber: Moderate
The Chemical Sector is targeted by sophisticated state-sponsored threat actors for the purpose of intellectual property theft and intelligence collection. The industry is increasingly dependent on information technology systems for communications and operations, providing more opportunity for malicious hackers to exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access. Both state and non-state actors likely have the capabilities to conduct manipulative or destructive attacks on the sector. The Industrial Control Systems-Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) responded to 295 cyber incidents against US industrial targets in 2015—a 20 percent increase from 2014.

Terrorism: Low
There have been no terrorist attacks against the Chemical Sector in the United States. In June 2015, Yassin Salhi, a truck driver for a US-based company in Lyon, France—Air Products and Chemicals—tried to blow up a factory by ramming his vehicle into nitrogen cylinders, but no damage was done. 

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has demonstrated the intent and capability to use crude chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria. In 2015, the group used chlorine and mustard gas against Kurdish fighters.

Preparedness

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Initially authorized by Congress in 2007, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program (CFATS) identifies and regulates high-risk chemical facilities, ensuring security measures are in place to reduce the risks associated with stored chemicals. The program requires facilities identified as high-risk to meet and maintain performance-based security standards. US Department of Homeland Security chemical security inspectors work in all 50 states to help ensure facilities have security measures in place to meet CFATS requirements.

The New Jersey Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act became effective in 1986 and has been readopted, with the most recent expiration date set for January 2023. The goal of the Act is to protect the public from releases of extraordinarily hazardous substances by requiring risk management plans for facilities.

Intelligence Gaps

  • What terrorist groups are planning to target the Chemical Sector in the United States?
  • What individuals are plotting to steal or extract chemicals from facilities, either for terrorist or criminal purposes? 
  • What types of cyber incidents are chemical companies experiencing?  How often?

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Preparedness Bureau at preparedness@njohsp.gov.