WASTEWATER TREATMENT WORKS SECURITY ACT -- (Senate - November 16, 2005)
Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the Wastewater Treatment Works Security Act of 2005. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this bill.
When Timothy McVeigh drove a rental vehicle up to a Federal building in Oklahoma City, Americans began to look at trucks in a completely new way. So we learned to screen vehicles to safeguard against such a tragedy ever happening again.
On September 11, 2001, a thing as ordinary as an airplane became an instrument of destruction and terror, robbing innocent people of the rest of their lives. As a result, we have gotten pretty good at screening people and their luggage at airports, and at keeping planes out of protected air space.
While these changes are necessary and prudent, there is another part of the equation to consider: the act of terror not yet committed. We must look at the threats our security experts have identified and address these potential threats.
One such threat is a possible attack on our Nation's wastewater treatment plants. Traditionally, wastewater treatment plants have stored chemicals that, if used properly, clean the water of harmful organisms. When most of these plants were built, we did not design them to ward against use as potential weapons of mayhem and destruction. Appropriately, we were only concerned about the environment, safety, and preventing accidents.
Since September 11, as security concerns have been identified in this sector, many of these facilities have taken steps on their own to switch to safer alternative treatments or to further secure chemicals and the facilities against deliberate acts of terrorism. But, such changes are expensive. Many of these facilities need assistance to upgrade security at the facility and to switch to these safer alternative forms of treatment.
The Wastewater Treatment Works Security Act of 2005 puts in place requirements to assess facilities' vulnerability and provides much needed financial assistance to upgrade security and to switch to safer forms of chemical treatment. My only regret is that the bill does not pick up more of the cost of the assessments and upgrades. I believe the Federal Government needs to take on a larger share of funding these types of homeland security improvements.
This is a much needed bill, and I urge my colleagues to support it.