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P2 and Environmental Security: Background and Overview
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Reasons for Change
Integrating P2 and Security
P2 Opportunities
Key Contacts
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Environmental Security Study: Emerging International Definitions, Perceptions and Policy Considerati...
This executive summary of a study conducted by the Millennium Project provides an overview of the va...

Pollution Prevention Northwest, Winter 2002: P2 and National Security
This edition of the PPRC newsletter focuses on ways in which pollution prevention may enhance nation...

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (H.R. 5005)
This Act established the Department of Homeland Security, which serves to coordinate the executive b...

National and environmental security are extremely important and timely issues to countries throughout the world. Foreign and domestic terrorism, and other intentional disruptive acts by individuals or groups, and/or natural destructive events, can have detrimental impacts. These impacts can include harm or loss of life; economical, psychological, and physical destruction; and contamination of the built and natural environments. New security assessment tools, regulations, protocols, and criteria are emerging as attempts to develop strong security programs for countries, communities, facilities and homes.

This hub places into general context national and environmental security with respect to potential synergies with the field of pollution prevention (P2). More specifically, the other sections cover what, why, and how pollution prevention projects within your facility add value to national and local security efforts.

This hub also provides resources to:

  • help educate typical businesses and manufacturing companies about environmentally-related security risks;
  • suggest some practical actions, tools and systems that can help reduce risks;
  • and offer links to specific resources and information to assist in improving security at plants.

The types of resources presented include plant-specific P2 opportunities, guidance documents on assessing risk and vulnerabilities, and additional relevant information about opportunities, regulations, and the connection between pollution prevention and security.

For purposes of this document, the most relevant type of security vulnerability is intentional destructive act(s) or attack(s) on facilities, businesses, homes, airsheds, watersheds, or other defined or localized areas. For instance, an attack or bombing ultimately results in release of chemical, biological, or radiological (CBR) agents, along with physical destruction and potential harm to humans or wildlife. Other examples include disablement of a critical infrastructure such as power or water supply to a region, and biological contamination of air ducts or domestic mail. The immediate impact of either action, while horrible, typically necessitates relatively short-term mitigation, although long-term health, psychological, and environmental impacts may ensue.

Two other types of security vulnerabilties are environmentally relevant. The first is reliance on natural resources, especially imports and nonrenewable resources. For instance, disruption of major oil supplies and/or strategic metal feedstock, could cripple a large region or industry. Depending on the severity or completeness of this type of security breach, the aftermath directly and systemically impacts a larger portion of the national population and economy, rather than a specifically targeted element.

Another vulnerability concerns the adverse impact of human activities on the environment. This is less of a direct threat to national homeland security and more a threat to overall global environmental quality in the near term and for future generations. "An international panel identified the following as the most important environmental security threats over the next ten years: human population growth, loss of biodiversity, climate change, water scarcity, water quality, food security, environmental refugees, deforestation, industrial contamination of air and oceans, soil conservation/erosion, nuclear safety issues, ozone depletion, and global warming. (Source: The Millenium Project - Global Futures Studies and Research).

Because of the breadth of security issues and mitigative measures, this document confines itself to discussing areas where specific P2 opportunities can reduce the severity of impacts from localized attacks and destruction. A few suggestions are also relevant to vulnerabilities associated with reliance on natural resources or inadequate attention to the future security of the global environment.

How Can Pollution Prevention and Security Team Up?

Risk management is one element that security analyses and P2 techniques have in common. Under the Clean Air Act, the US Environmental Protection Agency's Risk Management Program Rule requires companies--regardless of size--that use certain flammable and toxic substances to develop a Risk Management Program (RMP), including hazard assessment, prevention, and emergency response plans. Other P2 techniques that can be applied in tandem with security analysis, guidance, and action or response plans, include various aspects of toxics reduction, product stewardship, life cycle analysis, design for the environment (DfE), environmental procurement, sustainable development, and environmental management systems. In return, there are elements within security vulnerability assessments and corrective action plans that can enhance P2 tools.

What Are Some of the Most Vulnerable Targets?

No business is safe from the different forms of terrorism. Even small stores, businesses, or shops having hazardous chemicals or other dangerous materials on site, or that may be remotely affiliated with a larger, targeted organization, are at risk. However, some high-risk targets include sectors that manufacture or use toxic substances, and/or provide critical goods and services to most of the population. Among them are:

  • Energy supply and infrastructure, generation and distribution;
  • Chemical designers, manufacturers, users, and handlers;
    "Common facilities using chemicals that pose great threats to local populations include chemical manufacturers (chlorine and a range of other chemicals), water treatment facilities (chlorine), petro-chemical facilties/oil refineries (chlorine and a range of other chemicals) and fertilizer manufacturers (ammonia)." Jeremiah Baumann, U.S. Public Interest Research Group
  • Drinking water supply and distribution infrastructure;
  • Government and military facilities;
  • Transportation infrastructure;
  • Medical and healthcare facilties;
  • Metal plating facilities;
  • Large, well known companies (and their smaller affiliates or manufacturing facilities); and
  • Agriculture and food production

Increasing the vulnerability of some of these sectors, is the nations' concentration and centralization of many industries. For instance, 10% of cattle farms produce 75% of national sales of beef. Therefore, terrorists targeting a few major suppliers and providers of certain goods and services, can create a significant impact nationwide.

Subsequent sections of this hub discuss reasons to incorporate P2 in security efforts. They also discuss synergies between and integration of pollution prevention and security, and applicable P2 tools, regulations, and opportunities for reducing security risks.


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The P2 and Environmental Security Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 10/2/2012