Security Plan Raises Comfort Level at Safe Handling

Dec. 1, 2001
SAFE HANDLING INC, an Auburn, Maine, rail transfer facility operator, has developed a 100-point security plan that can serve as an excellent model for

SAFE HANDLING INC, an Auburn, Maine, rail transfer facility operator, has developed a 100-point security plan that can serve as an excellent model for the rest of the transloading industry. Completed about a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the plan is being woven into the company's existing emergency response plan and ISO 9002-certified procedures.

Ford S Reiche, Safe Handling's president, took the lead on the project, an outline of which is posted on the company's web site at “Security is a new mindset for everyone in this business,” he says. “It's a new subject area that is still taking shape. We're trying to instill security awareness in our people, and we have added this factor to our employee performance reviews.”

In developing the Safe Handling security plan, Reiche and his management team turned first to various industry associations. Reiche says National Tank Truck Carriers and the tank truck industry as a whole appeared to have their acts together better than other sectors of the bulk logistics industry. He also praised the site security guidelines developed by the American Chemistry Council, Chlorine Institute, and Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association.

Safe Handling's Sabotage Preparedness Plan starts with facility security. While not entirely fenced, the 55-acre facility has a number of controlled-access features, some of which were in place before September 11. Lighting and closed-circuit television already made it possible to do a good job of monitoring activity at the transloading facility, and Reiche's team simply made sure there were no gaps in the coverage. They verified that all alarm systems were fully functional.

Gate locks were upgraded in some cases. All locks were rekeyed, and some were replaced with punch key entry systems. “At $500 for each unit, we only did a few of the punch key entry systems,” Reiche says. “We are developing a schedule for periodically changing lock combinations.”

Irregular Hours

The transloading operation provides service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Activities often are underway at irregular hours. The new sabotage preparedness plan takes those factors into account in requiring that a minimum of two Safe Handling staffers must be on duty anytime operations are underway.

In addition, no unauthorized personnel are allowed in the facility at anytime. Truck drivers, contractors, vendors, and others must sign in and provide photo identification. Safe Handling personnel also are required to wear photo ID badges.

Security personnel now roam the property. All equipment at the facility is inspected daily by the maintenance crew. Inbound shipments in tank trailers and rail tankcars are inspected more diligently.

Hiring procedures have undergone a number of changes. Job applicants are being checked much more thoroughly. Management has become more concerned about gaps in employment, frequent job shifts, type of military discharge, citizenship, prior residences, personal references, and criminal history.

Security is now a more important part of training for both new hires and current employees. Weekly safety team meetings review facility security along with other safety issues.

Employees have been instructed to immediately contact management if any unusual or suspicious behavior is detected. For non-urgent situations, normal Quality Action Team procedures are to be followed.

Emergency contact lists have been updated. Procedures have been clarified on contacting Safe Handling managers and the steps to go through in notifying government authorities. Media contact procedures have been updated.

Shipper Profiles

A number of special precautions have been implemented for specific aspects of the Safe Handling operation. For the bulk transload terminal itself, this includes maintaining a complete list of products handled, noting particular risks and hazards for each. Shipper profiles have been established.

Shipment documents are now kept in a secure area. Customers are given the option of using tamper-evident seals on inbound shipments; the seal numbers are recorded on bills of lading and other load documents.

Remotely monitored storage tanks at customer locations are now watched much more closely by Safe Handling employees. “We're watching for any unusual data that would suggest sabotage,” Reiche says.

On the trucking side, Safe Handling employees are keeping a closer watch over tank trailers that are preloaded and parked at the facility. Hardened-steel chains are used to lock the landing gear on trailers that belong to Safe Handling.

Railcars are getting a lot more attention. Written inspection procedures have been established for railcars carrying hazardous materials. Cars with other cargoes are inspected just as carefully. Rail switches are monitored much more closely now.

Even prior to September 11, Safe Handling allowed only top unloading of rail tankcars. Bottom outlets must be locked out. “We believe this enhances security, because a compressor must be used to remove product from a tankcar,” Reiche says.