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Chemicals of security concern

Australia faces a significant threat from terrorism and there is a real risk of some commonly available chemicals being used for a terrorist attack on our own soil.

Chemicals of security concern

We can reduce this risk by ensuring that good security measures are in place across the chemical supply chain - from importers, manufacturers and transporters right through to retailers - as well as in places where chemicals are used, such as laboratories, farms and in food manufacture and processing.

The voluntary National  Code of Practice for Chemicals of Security Concern (the code) identifies 15 high risk chemicals which include 11 chemical precursors to homemade explosives and four toxic chemicals that are considered to be of high risk for possible use in a toxic device.

Businesses are being urged to continue to help safeguard Australia from terrorism by remaining vigilant when it comes to using, handling, storing, selling, transporting and disposing of chemicals. In particular, businesses and their workers have a crucial role to play in protecting themselves and the wider public if they suspect chemicals are being misused.

The code is based on good business practices that prevent the loss and theft of chemicals and helps to identify the steps that need to be taken to reduce risk where it can be done in a cost effective and balanced way.

Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission Audit Report

In 2017–18, the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) audited four agencies in the department, university and statutory body sectors regarding their management of risks associated with chemicals of security concern (CSC) in their laboratories and workplaces.

These chemicals are precursors to homemade explosives, toxic devices and illicit drugs. Failure to manage chemical risks involving CSC appropriately impacts on an agency’s accountability and governance, and may constitute corrupt conduct. Further, this failure may facilitate the diversion of chemicals for illicit purposes.

The CCC audit undertook a detailed review of the four agencies’ chemical management systems to manage such CSC (e.g. policies, procedures, processes and information systems). The findings of the audit are provided in the CCC summary report: Managing the security risk associated with chemicals of security concern, October 2018.

A number of recommendations include the areas of:

  • governance (policy and people initiatives)
  • risk management
  • purchasing and inventory management
  • chemical security
  • regulatory oversight.

The CCC concluded that public sector agencies and Queensland businesses should acknowledge the changing national security and criminal landscape, and its role in providing appropriate leadership in pursuit of the objectives of the voluntary National Code of Practice for Chemicals of Security Concern.

Further information

The Australian National Security website provides more information about chemical security, including the code.

Any suspicious behaviour or activities should be reported to the National Security Hotline on 1800 1234 00 or hotline@nationalsecurity.gov.au.

View a range of resources to help raise awareness about chemical security.

Chemical security films

Chemical security for small business owners and managers

This film provides general advice to small business employers involved in the sale of chemicals of security concern. Train your staff to be chemical security aware.

  • Read transcript
    • [Image shows footage of a news report being played. Sirens can be heard and a reporter 'these are the devastating scenes unfolding as emergency crews rush to tend to the wounded']

      [Image changes to show Harry seated at a bar with a beer watching the footage on television. The voice of the reporter continues to be heard 'the number of causalities is not yet known and the source of the blast is yet to be confirmed, however, police will be mounting a full investigation']

      [Image shows Tom the barman talking to Harry]

      Tom: How does something like that happen?  Eh?  How do they put a bomb together?

      Harry: You'd be surprised how easy it all is. Mate, even I could sell you the chemicals you need...

      [Image shows Harry pausing and footage of the events that unfolded being played in reverse. A man can be seen getting into a white van and leaving a carpark]

      [Image changes back to Harry and Tom at the bar]

      Maybe it wasn't even sold to the bombers. I mean, if a bloke was a bit slack with his security...

      [Image shows a man walking out of a garage and not securing the gate behind him. A hooded man enters and can be seen taking items of the shelf]

      [Image changes to show Harry doing a stock take of items in a shop. He pauses when he gets to a spot where pool sanitiser has been knocked over and looks around the shop]

      Tom: Well, you guys wouldn't be that hopeless Harry, not if you stocked dangerous kit, but the stuff you keep, it's harmless isn't it?

      [Image changes to show a man at a stove pouring and mixing things in big saucepans and then changes back to Harry]

      Harry: Why, because it doesn't have the word 'explosive' written on it?  Just take a look on the internet.

      [Image changes to show the man looking at information on a computer screen and then back to Tom and Harry at the bar]

      Tom: You'd have to be bloody careful then.

      Harry: You're absolutely right.

      Tom: Train your staff and everything I imagine?

      Harry: Yes you're spot-on Tom, you're spot-on.

      [Image changes to show Harry looking for something in an office. He opens a pamphlet entitled, Training: is your staff chemical security aware? Harry picks up the pamphlet and walks off]

      [Image has changed back to Harry and Tom at the bar]

      Harry: It's a wake-up call mate, I don't mind admitting.

      [Image changes back to show the footage played at the beginning where there has been an explosion]

      [Image changes to show Harry back in the store addressing his staff as he holds up the Training: is your staff chemical security aware? pamphlet]

      Harry: If I can have your attention, please? I'm sure you've all seen the news.  So, here's what we're going to do.

      [Screen turns black and text appears on screen: Are your employees chemical security aware?]

      [Logo and text appears on screen: If you suspect it report it, chemical security. National Security Hotline 1800 1234 00, hotline@nationalsecurity.gov.au, www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/chemicalsecurity]

      [Image changes to show the Commonwealth Coat of Arms with text: Australian Government]

      RUN TIME: 2 min 3 sec

Chemical security for employees

This film provides general advice to small business employees involved in the sale of chemicals of security concern. What are some suspicious behaviour to look out for? If you suspect it, report it to the National Security Hotline.

  • Read transcript
    • [Image shows an animated map of Australia]
      Narrator: The threat from terrorism in Australia is real. Homemade explosives and toxic weapons can be made from chemicals many of us deal with in our everyday work.

      [Image changes to show an animated figure pour a bag of chemicals into a blender, and mixes. Empty containers lie discarded nearby]

      [Image changes to show an animated figure in a laboratory type setting with chemical containers labelled hazardous]

      [Image changes to show an animated map of Australia with little figures of people all popping up, indicating a sense of community]

      But we can all contribute to keeping Australia safe and secure.

      [Image changes to show the front cover of The National Code of Practice for Chemicals of Security Concern]

      The National Code of Practice for Chemicals of Security Concern explains practical things you can do to help keep chemicals secure in your workplace.

      [Image changes to show the chemical containers being secured in a cupboard and a shed]
      [Image changes to show “Manager” holding a clipboard and standing at a counter with chemical containers]

      If you sell or handle chemicals as part of your job, you can apply the tips from the Code to help build a strong chemical security culture.

      [Image changes to show “Manager” watching a staff member inspecting chemical containers]

      Be aware of the risks and pay attention to suspicious activities.

      [Image changes to show an animated figure watching a “customer” who is acting suspiciously whilst standing in front of a cupboard of chemical containers]

      You might notice a customer who seems to be nervous or acting strangely.

      [Image changes to show a “staff member” looking furtively over shoulder and then slips into restricted chemical storage]

      Or a fellow worker who is acting suspiciously.

      [Image changes to show an animated figure taking photographs outside a shop]

      It could be someone taking photos of the premises or paying too much attention to your security.

      [Image changes to show an odd combination of chemicals piled up on the counter. An animated figure appears behind them ready to pay, a question mark appears over their head as they look at the chemicals]

      Someone buying an unusual amount, or odd combination of chemicals, but doesn’t know their proper use.

      [Image changes to show an animated figure standing in front of a cupboard full of chemical containers and ticking them off a checklist. They pause at an empty section of shelf where more chemicals are supposed to be]

      Missing stock.

      [Image changes to show an animation of a truck delivering chemical containers to a suburban address]

      Or a customer wanting commercial quantities delivered to a residential address.

      [Image changes to show an animated figure working at their computer. Green envelopes are rising from their monitor, but then zoom in on the computer screen that has a big question mark on it. The figures expression changes to one of concern]

      Consider if there is anything odd about any online order. Have they made repeated orders in a short space of time? Emailed asking unusual questions or requesting a strange delivery address? Has the order come from an odd IP address or location?

      [Image changes to show an animated figure taking photographs outside a shop the “Manger” comes along and the figure walks off]

      You know your workplace, and you know when something just doesn’t feel right. Trust your instincts. Report your concerns to the National Security Hotline.

      [Image changes to show an animation of a truck collecting chemical containers from a suburban home, and then changes to show a person across the street looking at this with an expression of concern]

      You can help keep dangerous chemicals away from terrorists. Know the chemicals. Know the risks. Know the code.

      For a copy of the code go to nationalsecurity.gov.au/chemicalsecurity

      [Text appears on screen: If you suspect it, report it, chemical security. National Security Hotline 1800 123 400 www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/chemicalsecurity]

      [Coat of Arms appears on screen with text: Australian Government]

      RUN TIME: 2 min 13 sec

Chemical security in the community

This film provides general advice to the community about suspicious behaviour relating to chemicals of security concern. Trust your instincts—if you suspect it, report it to the National Security Hotline.

  • Read transcript
    • [Image show footage of a news report being played. Sirens can be heard and a reporter 'these are the devastating scenes unfolding as emergency crews rush to tend to the wounded. The number of causalities is not yet known and the source of the blast is yet to be confirmed']

      [Image changes to show Jackie watching the footage of the news report on a handheld device. The voice of the reporter continues to be heard 'police are currently seeking any information on a white van that could be related to the incident']

      [Image shows Martin enter the room and sit down on a couch. The voice of the reporter continues to be heard 'if you or anyone you know have any information that could assist authorities with their investigation please call the number...']

      Martin: Lost something?

      Jackie: The people who moved in opposite, they had a van like this didn't they?

      [Image shows Jackie handing Martin the handheld device she was watching. Footage of the vans actions appears on screen]

      [Image shows the man in the van being stopped at a gate and another man reviewing a piece of paper the man in the van has passed to him]

      Male: You know the date on here's for last week? I won't let you through if it's wrong next time.

      [Image shows the man handing back the piece of paper to the man in the van and then van drives off]

      [Image has changed back to show Martin on the couch watching the footage on the handheld device]

      Martin: Yeah, I guess.

      [Camera moves back to Jackie staring out the window. She shrugs her shoulders]

      Jackie: I watched them coming and going.

      [Image shows the van in the street and then changes to show the man in the van at a stove pouring and mixing things in big saucepans and then moves back to show Jackie and Martin]

      Martin: What are you on about?

      [Camera zooms in on Jackie and then moves back to show Martin]

      But you don't think...

      Jackie: Something seemed a bit odd and then the other day, when you ran past...

      [Image shows footage of Martin running. As Martin bends down to catch his breath he spots an overflowing waste bin of empty containers of pool sanitiser outside of the house where the white van is parked. Martin looks at the house and walks away]

      [Image shows Martin returning home and Jackie is seated at a table reading]

      Good run?

      Martin: Yeah... um... they don't have a swimming pool?

      Jackie: Who?

      Martin: Over the road. Seems strange to me that that they'd use all those chemicals.

      [Image shows Jackie turning to look out a window]

      [Image changes back to show the footage played at the beginning where there has been an explosion]

      [Image changes back to show Jackie looking out the window and Martin walks over to her]

      Jackie: I think... I think we should have called someone.

      [Screen turns black and text appears on screen: Suspect it? Report it.]

      [Logo and text appears on screen: If you suspect it report it, chemical security. National Security Hotline 1800 1234 00, hotline@nationalsecurity.gov.au, www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/chemicalsecurity]

      [Image changes to show the Commonwealth Coat of Arms with text: Australian Government]

      RUN TIME: 1 min 58 sec

Last updated
20 November 2018

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