For Release: Tuesday, August 27, 2002
New VPC Report Sitting Ducks Detailing 50 Caliber Sniper Rifle Terrorist Threat to Refinery and Hazardous-Chemical Facilities Released at Briefing Potential Devastating and Deadly Effects
WASHINGTON – Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, federal officials have warned the chemical and refinery industry that hazardous-materials plants could be turned into weapons of mass destruction. The attacks which made enormously destructive bombs out of passenger jets woke the world to the fact that familiar objects we tend to think of as relatively benign can become terrifying weapons inflicting catastrophic damage. The Violence Policy Center (VPC) released Sitting Ducks: The Threat to the Chemical and Refinery Industry from 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles on Tuesday, August 27, 2002, at 12:30 PM at the National Press Club. Lisa Finaldi, Greenpeace Toxics Campaign Coordinator, joined the VPC in detailing the effects of this deadly threat on population centers across the country.
Sitting Ducks provides detailed information about a serious threat to refinery and hazardous-chemical facilities: the 50 caliber sniper rifle and the armor-piercing, incendiary, and explosive ammunition it is capable of firing accurately over thousands of yards. The U.S. Army’s manual on urban combat states that 50 caliber sniper rifles are intended for use as anti-materiel weapons, designed to attack bulk fuel tanks and other high-value targets from a distance, using “their ability to shoot through all but the heaviest shielding material.”
The ease of obtaining these weapons of war is illustrated by the alleged possession and intended use for terror by Dr. Robert J. Goldstein, arrested this past weekend. Despite its awesome and destructive firepower 50 caliber sniper rifles are easier to purchase than handguns in the US.
An analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that at least 123 plants in the United States keep amounts of toxic chemicals that could place more than one million people in danger if released, 700 plants maintain amounts that could endanger at least 100,000 people, and more than 3,000 plants maintain amounts that could affect 10,000 people.