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16
Designing for Explosive
Resistance
Randall I. Atlas and Anthony DiGregorio
It is widely known today that critical infrastructure is the target of choice by terrorists. From bridges,
water-treatment plants, power plants, symbolic buildings, transportation hubs, and banking, critical
infrastructure represents the backbone of the economy in a democratic society. With a majority of
the critical infrastructure in the private sector, it is important to note that responsibility for security
and protection rests with the owners of infrastructure themselves. The nudging and supervision of the
federal government is necessary to make sure there is a standard of care. For example, the Maritime
Transportation Security Act creates security goals for the maritime industry. Pending legislation
for the Chemical Facilities Security Act would mandate security duties for the chemical industry.
Water-treatment facilities and nuclear power facilities have existing federal standards and regulations
regarding security. The challenge with getting the private sector to develop security standards and
emergency plans is that each sector operates in somewhat of a vacuum. Until a major disaster specic
to a particular infrastructure prompts national regulations, such as dams breaking, bridges collapsing,
or widespread food contamination, private sector infrastructure owners will be slow to make changes.
The attack on the New York World Trade Center (WTC) brought to light our worst fears in a
security nightmare: out of control res, structural collapses, failure of emergency re safety sys-
tems, failure of emergency backup power systems, and the horror of evacuation from a high-rise
building. Any building can suffer from an explosion as a result of a terrorist attack, or more likely a
faulty water heater, or propane gas heater.
How should the security manager design their building to resist the damage from an explosion?
The rst and most critical step is to identify the vulnerable areas of your building and the most
likely sources of the potential threats. The WTC was a target for terrorism because the building
represented corporate America and one-stop shopping for maximum impact for killing persons and
disrupting corporate America. The unsecured parking garage in the rst attack in 1993 provided the
opportunity to get a bomb into the underground parking structure. The WTC was designed to make
money and welcome the public. Security considerations were not a primary factor in the design, and
the results were catastrophic (see Figure 16.1).
Since the explosive attacks on American embassies in the early 1980s, embassies are now
designed with setback distance and a series of barriers between the building and the surround-
ing local environment. It is common to have awnings or eaves over the windows to prevent a
rocket-launched missile or a hand-thrown grenade to directly penetrate a window and explode
in the building. The eaves serve to help deect attacks and localize the damage to the outside
of the building. Windows and glazing are designed to be blast-resistant, reducing or prevent-
ing shards of glass acting as shrapnel. Another well-known material used for break resistance
CONTENTS
Designing Buildings to Protect againstBombings and Other Terror Threats ................................263
Application of Security Standards to Building Types ...............................................................263
Summary ........................................................................................................................................ 273
References ...................................................................................................................................... 274

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