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Addressing Homeland Security In A Process Safety Course

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

ChE: Innovation in Existing Courses

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.160.1 - 11.160.7



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Paper Authors


David Silverstein University of Kentucky

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David L. Silverstein is currently an Associate Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Kentucky College of Engineering Extended Campus Programs in Paducah. He received his B.S.Ch.E. from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; his M.S. and Ph.D in Chemical Engineering from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee; and has been a registered P.E. since 2002. He has over twenty years experience in microcomputer programming. Silverstein is the 2004 recipient of the William H. Corcoran Award for the most outstanding paper published in Chemical Engineering Education during 2003.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Addressing Homeland Security in Process Safety


Chemical plants, like other potential terrorist targets, are subjects of intense scrutiny as the federal government and other agencies seek to protect the public from harm. Engineering students must be kept aware of the role they will be expected to play in maintaining security in a plant environment and to protect the public from the worst of unexpected occurrences. With the rapid changes in chemical plant security that began well before 2001 and continue today, chemical engineering educators must be provided with current information pertinent to existing classes that will empower tomorrow’s engineers to function effectively.

A module developed to integrate topics in homeland security into a course in Ethics, Safety, and Professionalism is described. This module introduces students to the role of government, industry groups, and individual plants in maintaining as safe an environment as reasonably possible in an age of terrorism. The focus of the module is to tie elements of the course and curriculum previously discussed to a rapidly changing contemporary issue. Topics tied to the module include the role of government (executive and legislative roles and current activities in both with regard to plant safety, previously introduced in the context of safety and environmental law), green engineering (just-in-time production, waste minimization), fail-safes, and risk analysis (HAZOP and other methods). New topics include site vulnerability analysis, ventilation security, and cybersecurity. Extensive documentation is provided, as well as references to current information available regarding plant security.


Among the effects of terroristic attacks in recent years is a heightened awareness of the need to secure chemical plants from deliberately initiated catastrophic failures. While terrorism is not a new concern of the chemical industry, the current state of world affairs suggest that new chemical engineers should enter industry understanding how approaches to plant and process safety address terrorism. Additionally, they should understand the role of government in establishing minimal requirements for safety, be aware of the role of industrial lobbying groups in the legislative process, and place the response by the chemical industry to terroristic threats in the context of history and current events.

A module intended for a course in process safety was developed to address these concerns. The specific course incorporates safety, ethics, and professionalism in a one semester hour survey course. Following coverage of typical safety topics including toxicology, industrial hygiene, hazards identification, risk assessment, and others, a topic entitled “Safeguarding plants from terror” was integrated into the course. In addition to addressing the goals above, topics previously covered in class were to be re-emphasized. The module is intended to primarily achieve the objective of tying contemporary issues to objectives already independently assessed.

This paper is intended to introduce resources available and provide a basic background on homeland security in chemical plants to chemical engineering faculty interested in bringing this contemporary issue into their classroom. This particular implementation is only suitable to

Silverstein, D. (2006, June), Addressing Homeland Security In A Process Safety Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--424

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