Terrorists are turning more to using highway-borne hazardous materials to carry out their terrorist actions, and the government should focus more on this readily available, least protected hazmat, rather than hazmat that can cause catastrophic losses
, according to two new reports released by the Mineta Transportation Institute.

"We consider gasoline tankers, and to a lesser extent, propane tankers to be the most attractive options for terrorists seeking to use highway-borne hazmat because they can create intense fires in public assemblies and residential properties," said Brian Michael Jenkins, director of MTI's National Transportation Security Center of Excellence. "We strongly urge that DHS, State governments and the industry take a renewed look at flammable liquids and gases as a weapon of opportunity, and at a strategy to improve security measures and technology."

The new reports include: "Potential Terrorist Uses of Highway-Borne Hazardous Materials," which evaluates security risks created by truck-borne hazardous materials, particularly gasoline tankers; and "Implementation and Development of Vehicle Tracking and Immobilization Technologies," which details specific developments in tracking and immobilization technology that can increase security.

The hazmat report, which was requested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is authored by Jenkins and Bruce R. Butterworth, along with Douglas Reeves, Billy Poe and Karl S. Shrum.

The tracking and immobilization technologies report is authored by Jenkins, Butterworth, and Dr. Frances Edwards.

The peer-reviewed reports came from a review of terrorist objectives, hazardous materials, and potential targets. The reports conclude that terrorists most often seek soft targets that yield significant casualties and prefer attacking public buildings and assemblies. According to the reports, terrorists most often go after simple operations with little consequences, rather than complex and uncertain operations. Terrorists have also discussed substituting fire for harder-to-acquire explosives. Gasoline tankers have greater appeal because they can easily produce intense fires, operate in target-rich environments with predictable routes, and pose few security challenges.

The report urges the government to focus more on the most readily available, least protected hazmat. It calls for a clear strategy to increase and sustain security, and for resolving significant jurisdictional issues between federal and state authorities; strengthening hazmat security measures in the field; and implementing vehicle tracking technologies, panic alarms, and immobilization capabilities for vehicles carrying specific hazardous materials, including gasoline.

To download the reports for free, visit www.transweb.sjsu.edu, and click "Research" and then "Publications." Scroll down to the reports.