Post 9/11 Activities Continue to Affect Converting Industry

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, efforts continue by both government and the private sector to adopt new procedures to protect people and property from future terrorist attacks.

Hazardous materials transportation has been of particular concern, chemical security remains a significant issue, and many businesses are implementing mail security procedures and testing for exposure to anthrax.

Aside from testing offices and personnel for exposure, the EPA has been flooded with requests for data on sterilants that can be used to combat anthrax. New security and safety procedures will have an ongoing impact on day-to-day operations of the converting industry.

The FBI, the US Dept. of Transportation (DOT), and other law enforcement and regulatory authorities have taken steps to increase the security of HazMat shipments. DOT has proposed legislation to enhance security by, among other things, increasing its power to inspect and seize HazMat shipments and place equipment transporting HazMats out-of-service if such transportation presents an imminent danger. The bill also would increase civil and criminal penalties for violations of DOT HazMat rules significantly.

These measures could result in permanent changes in the way HazMats are distributed. While security concerns are focused primarily on the most dangerous products (e.g., explosives, radioactive materials, poisonous chemicals and gases, and flammable liquids), shipments of lower risk HazMats, such as some food additives or cleaning materials, could be affected.

Companies that transport, ship, or receive HazMats likely will encounter delays and added costs as HazMat vehicles are stopped and inspected more frequently and shipments rerouted away from large population areas.

Shippers of HazMats may need to build longer transit times into their delivery schedules, and receivers may need to increase inventories and adjust “just-in-time” arrangements with carriers to accommodate these security measures. Rates for HazMat transportation could increase as carriers pass on to shippers, in the form of “security surcharges” or other rate adjustments, the additional costs the carriers incur.

Many firms that experienced disruptions in supplies of important chemicals in the wake of 9/11 have begun asking whether “just-in-time” deliveries should include “just-in-case” stockpiling as a hedge against scarcity. But safety and liability concerns predominate and are a disincentive to storing or stockpiling scenarios.

The recently proposed Chemical Security Act of 2001 (S. 1602) requires owners and operators of high-priority chemical sources to identify hazards that may result from an accidental or criminal release of a substance of concern, to take actions to prevent such a release, and to minimize the consequences of any release that does occur.

Many businesses have adjusted mail-handling procedures as a result of the anthrax scares. In the midst of the current economic slowdown, companies offering environmental testing services are doing big business testing offices and plants for anthrax. Companies also are inquiring about registered pesticides that could be used to sanitize products, mail, and buildings. Of course, protecting the food supply is also a vital concern.*

EPA has determined that confirmatory efficacy data are required to support amendment of a sterilant label to add claims for control of anthrax spores. Providing such data may require testing B. anthracis itself, which means that choices of products known to be reasonably effective in controlling anthrax could be limited for some time.

Ongoing attention to the safety and security of people, places, and the environment remains the watchword of responsible converting industry members everywhere.

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