CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., a decade ago, the Kanawha Valley's chemical industry went on high alert.
Security guards made additional sweeps around plant fence-lines. Inspections of delivery trucks increased. Emergency boats patrolled the Kanawha River.
Chemical company officials warned that huge stockpiles of toxic chemicals were a likely target for further terror attacks.
Federal and state government officials responded by making information about such facilities -- what kinds of materials they store and in what quantities -- more difficult for the public to obtain. Secrecy was needed, industry and regulators agreed, to avoid giving terrorists roadmaps to attractive targets.
But 10 years later, the nation has yet to adopt a comprehensive anti-terrorism program for chemical plants, despite strong backing from environmental groups and labor organizations.
So far, Congress has passed only temporary legislation that leaves out what many plant safety advocates say is the most important piece of the puzzle: Forcing companies to use less-toxic materials that would not only be less appealing to terrorists but also be generally safer for workers, plant neighbors and the environment.
"Legislation must be passed to improve chemical industry workplace safety and security," James Frederick, assistant safety director for the United Steelworkers union, told Congress in March. "We believe that this is absolutely necessary to properly protect communities.
Long before the twin towers fell on 9/11, Kanawha Valley chemical plants worried about terrorist attacks. A decade earlier, plants remained security conscious for months, fearing attacks in response to U.S. military involvement in the Persian Gulf War.
In 1994, some plants went on alert because they feared a publicity stunt or vandalism by environmental groups to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the disaster at Union Carbide's plant that killed thousands of people in Bhopal, India.
At the time, the valley's emergency response plan blamed potential terrorism on "members of politically motivated organizations, but also ... former or present disgruntled employees ... or some organizations expressing concerns about the environment."
Since 9/11, the American Chemistry Council says its member companies have spent $10 billion on security enhancements.
"The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, permanently altered our concept of what it means to feel secure in the modern world," said ACC President and CEO Cal Dooley. "On that day, we took stock of our nation's vulnerabilities and realized that action was needed to further protect the nation's critical infrastructure, including chemical facilities."
Arnie Green, senior safety and security consultant for DuPont Co., said the Wilmington, Del.-based chemical giant has added more cameras, motion detection systems and other security hardware to its plants in Belle and Parkersburg.
"I think we've all looked at improving our security systems," Green said. "I think 9/11 certainly changed the way we all look at our security systems."