EPA Internet plan irks intelligence community

The Environmental Protection Agency has "roiled the intelligence and security communities" with a proposal to put data about chemical storage sites on the Internet, reports USA Today. Congress in 1990 required that "worst-case scenario" data on chemical sites be made public. Now the EPA may make information about storage and potential accidents at 70,000 chemical sites available on the Internet.

EPA officials "point out that previous posting of chemical information on the Internet prompted companies to cut back use of hazardous materials." But "outraged security experts" fear the plan would be "a convenient tool for terrorists."

Some have suggested putting the information in libraries, where access could be regulated. Christopher Ronay, formerly with the FBI, now head of the Institute of Makers of Explosives: "I don't think we're in opposition to the public knowing these facilities are present. But I don't think we want to post on the Internet ... the facility's [locale] and exactly what's in it."

The Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA and the State Department "are working closely" with the EPA on the plan, but "the EPA will make the final decision, which is not expected for at least a month" (Watson/Fields, USA Today, 4/17).

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