A study on the performance assessment of anti-terrorism physical protection systems in chemical plants

Francesca Argenti, Gabriele Landucci, Valerio Cozzani, Genserik Reniers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The threat originating from deliberate attacks against process and chemical sites where relevant quantities of hazardous substances are stored or processed is a credible one, as confirmed by the attacks carried out in France in the summer of 2015. Although such chemical sites implement multiple layers of protection to address safety-related accidents, they often get behind with providing adequate attention and resources to the protection of assets against external adversaries or, in other words, terrorist threats. The lack of a consolidated practice in the risk-informed implementation of security countermeasures goes hand in hand with the existence of very few rigorous approaches to the effectiveness assessment of security systems, and in particular of physical protection systems (PPSs). The present study addresses the issue of quantitatively assessing the effectiveness of physical security systems adopted to protect process and storage facilities, recognized as high-consequence loss physical assets. To this purpose, the security functions of PPSs were analyzed to guide the selection of performance parameters. Experts from the industry were involved to identify variables and influencing factors relevant to the successful accomplishment of security functions. Experience-based judgments on performance, to be expressed in terms of probabilistic estimates, were also obtained. An insight into the belief that experts hold on the probability of PPSs effectively preventing the success of an external attack and in the identification of critical elements was obtained. The application of the results to the quantitative assessment of the contribution of security controls in reducing vulnerability was also addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-196
Number of pages16
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • External terrorist attack
  • Physical protection system performance assessment
  • Physical security
  • Process industry

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A study on the performance assessment of anti-terrorism physical protection systems in chemical plants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this