Update: Nov. 24, 2008

Page updated on Dec 17, 2008 at 7:40 PM

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Determines Norfolk Southern Ethanol Transloading Facility a Low Threat

Transportation Security Administration Conducts Assessment; Results in Line with City Findings
In a June 20 letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff, Senator John Warner and Congressman James Moran requested that DHS conduct a security/threat assessment of the Norfolk Southern Railroad (NSRR) ethanol transfer facility at 1000 S. Van Dorn St. Secretary Chertoff then directed the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) to conduct the assessment.

On October 11, the City received the final report from DHS and sent it to the Alexandria Police Department Office of Homeland Security for comparison with the City’s security/threat assessment conducted on May 29. Alexandria Police Captain Al Tierney compared the results of both reports and determined that the TSA report did not vary significantly from the Police Department’s report.

The City’s assessment noted the facility’s physical security defects; at that time, NSRR agreed to address each noted defect. The TSA assessment re-affirmed the security defects and confirmed NSRR’s commitment to address them. No new defects related to the facility were identified.

Some of the security items already addressed by NSRR include the following:

  • Since the beginning of September 2008, a contracted private security company has posted an unarmed guard on site whenever the facility is not in operation.
  • The Fire Department has held joint training exercises both on and near the facility.
  • Some of the remaining physical security issues identified for remediation in both report are in various stages of resolution.

Other findings from the City and TSA security/threat assessments include the following:

  • Both assessments indicated that there is no critical infrastructure located within the primary life/safety threat area.
  • Both assessments indicated that there is an extremely low to nonexistent risk of a significant explosion on the site. The major consequence would be an on-site fire.
  • The TSA assessment noted the foam fire suppressant equipment and supplies that NSRR has provided to the City Fire Department and deemed them adequate.
  • The TSA assessment inferred that the City’s mandated truck route was not the safest route, and that the City did not clearly have the authority to control the truck routing to and from the site.

In his review of the City and TSA reports, Captain Tierney included the following facility threat assessment rating comparisons:

  • How likely is it that someone would want to strike the target?

    City Assessment: Low Threat     
    TSA Assessment: Extremely Low Threat
  • How easy is it to strike the target?

    City Assessment: High Threat     
    TSA Assessment: Medium Threat
  • What would be the change in this rating if NSRR completed all suggested physical security changes?

    City Assessment: Low Threat      
    TSA Assessment: Low Threat
  • What would be the consequence on the local population/community?

    City Assessment: Low Threat     
    TSA Assessment: Low Threat
  • Overall threat assessment rating for the facility:
    (The TSA rating factors in completion of all NSRR mitigation efforts)

    City Assessment: Low/Moderate Threat     
    TSA Assessment: Low Threat

Because of the sensitive security information contained in the DHS report, it will not be released to the public.