A Senator from Virginia is calling on the U.S. President to develop plans to safeguard offshore platforms from attack by terrorists. While the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has put accidental spills squarely in the national spotlight, the Senator is warning of another possible threat: deliberate sabotage. The Senator, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made his case in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “While Congress will continue to scrutinize BP and regulatory agencies, I write to urge you to also be vigilant against deliberate acts, such as an attack or sabotage, that could similarly devastate the region,” the Senator said in the letter, referring to the Gulf Coast. But he wants the security plans adopted for all U.S. coastal areas. He’s asking federal agencies to assess how vulnerable offshore oil rigs are to attack, and to make recommendations for safeguarding them.

In related news, the United States focuses on scanning shipping containers for nuclear smuggling, and with nearly 10 million cargo containers arriving in the United States by sea or on land each year, this is a difficult task experts acknowledge. But the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said this work is not enough, calling on the government to find ways to keep an eye on 13 million recreational boats and 110,000 fishing vessels which go in and out U.S. seaports — as well as on freight trains that are often more than three kilometers long. Terrorists bent on smuggling nuclear materials into the United States still have plenty of ways to do so, beyond shipping containers, the GAO stated in a new report. “It is important to close these gaps because dangerous quantities of nuclear materials can be portable enough to be carried across borders by vehicles or pedestrians on most private aircraft or small boats,” the director of the GAO’s natural resources and environment division, testified in a Congressional hearing that discussed the study.

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