Agency says 7,000 sites at 'high risk' of terrorist attack - CNN.com
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More than 7,000 facilities, from chemical plants to colleges, have been designated "high-risk" sites for potential terrorist attacks, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Experts long have worried that U.S. industrial facilities could be used as terrorist weapons.
Next week, the department will send letters to the facilities notifying them that they present the highest potential consequences in the event of a successful terrorist attack, said Robert Stephan, the agency's assistant secretary for infrastructure protection.
The facilities include chemical plants, hospitals, colleges and universities, oil and natural gas production and storage sites, and food and agricultural processing and distribution centers, Stephan said.
The names of the sites will not be released to the public.
The department compiled the list after reviewing information submitted by 32,000 facilities nationwide. It considered factors such as proximity to population centers, the volatility of chemicals on site and how the chemicals are stored and handled.
Experts long have worried that terrorists could attack chemical facilities near large cities, in essence turning them into large bombs. Experts say it is a hallmark of al Qaeda, in particular, to leverage a target nation's technological or industrial strength against it, as terrorists did in the September 11 terrorist attacks