email, April 5, 2002.
This anti-right-to-know letter is almost a
charicature. I wonder who wrote it for the Governor?
Note also the date on the letter.
October 8, 2001
Director Tom Ridge
Director, Office of Homeland Security
1100 Pennsylvania Ave.
Dear Director Ridge:
Due to the events of September 11, 2001, I have taken
the initiative to name General Wendell Gilbert to the
new position of Deputy to the Governor for Homeland
Security. He will be working directly with you on all
matters pertaining to national and state security.
Two years ago I formed a multi-agency Task Force to
handle emergency planning and consequence management
dealing with Weapons of Mass Destruction and Domestic
The first and most important recommendation from the
Task Force to me was to contact you and ask you to
immediately revoke the SARA Title III
"Community-Right-To-Know" Federal Law. In particular,
Tier II, Form R's and Plans, which are the
responsibility of state and local governments
through the Local Emergency Planning Committee's
(LEPC's) and the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA). The members of the Task Force, including the
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), the
Department of Safety, The Attorney General's Office,
and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA)
recognize the clear and present danger to Tennessee's
which is opened wide to any public scrutiny through
the complete release of these maps and plans and
detailed work schedules and lists.
I believe that by implementing the "Presidents
Emergency Powers Act", President Bush can revoke or
temporarily suspend this federal law, due to the
tremendous threat to national security which it
invites. Therefore, I am asking you to make this
revocation action your first formal recommendation to
the President. I believe this will close a huge hole
in our national security blanket which has hitherto
been unrecognized up to this juncture.
The information which is gathered in the LEPC
emergency plans and maps and roster listings is, at
this moment, completely open to any public citizen's
perusal in local and state offices throughout the
nation. My security Task Force has identified this
"Right-To-Know" information as, without question, the
most sensitive and dangerous hazardous-materials
could possibly be released to the public. By
appearing at a local emergency management office or
local County Executive's office or by calling regional
EPA offices, any person, whether a legal citizen or an
illegal alien (as no identification is required by
this law) can demand, and must be given by statute,
every single bit of information on the whereabouts,
security and first responder emergency plans for every
hazardous-materials storage or production or
transportation site in every community in every
state of the nation.
When this law was introduced and codified by Congress
in 1986 it was intended to provide emergency
information necessary to protect and save the lives of
first responders and emergency personnel who would
have to deal with spills or accidents involving the
production, storage or transportation of dangerous
hazardous-materials, in and through communities.
Through the years, by introduction of computerized
data-bases and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
these response concerns have now be identified and
addressed by state and local authorities. Now, due to
the introduction of cyber-terrorism and world-wide
networking, a determined individual could ask for
access to files which could tell exactly how many
pounds or gallons of dangerous chemical or biological
ingredients were present at an exact location in any
of our states. They could also determine from these
files when shipments in and out of facilities could be
tracked and what would be the destructive reaction
should these materials be tampered with. They could
also know where to deter and stop emergency response
personnel and the entire emergency plans which state
and local officials would use to interdict their
movements. They can know the ability of the
facilities to protect materials and the names and
phone numbers (updated quarterly) of each and every
key safety and security personnel involved in the
protection and transportation procedures. I think you
can easily and clearly see the potential worst-case
scenario that is readily available to terrorists, at
this moment, in thousands of unknowing offices. A
quick terrorist strike using this easily obtained
information could result in the deaths of thousands of
Of course, this law was never intended to be used in
this manner, but in the last twenty years, conditions
have changed more than we could ever have imagined. I
think the events of September 11, 2001 bear out this
I feel that this local LEPC information is critical to
the safety of our infrastructure and as such it should
be kept in a secure place at the state or local level,
with very limited access to some of the sensitive
emergency information. The needed response and
planning information should be determined and cleared
by a newly formed security panel which your office
should appoint and oversee. Then, the original intent
of the law could be retained, and our national
security safety would not be jeopardized.
If you have any questions or concerns about this
request, feel free to contact my office. I will be
ready to discuss or work with you on this issue.
Thank you for your concern.
Working Group on Community Right-to-Know
218 D Street, SE; Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-544-9586; Fax: 202-546-2461
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