Creating a Vehicular Perimeter Security System
For Petrochemical and Hydrocarbon Facilities
A White Paper by David Dickinson, Senior Vice President, Delta Scientific
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita broadcast the vulnerability of the North
American economy to the loss of refining and delivery capacities. This has
helped the petrochemical and hydrocarbon industries reach the apex of
terrorists’ lists for car bombing. Today, at production and distribution
facilities, more is needed at checkpoints than simply verifying if a person is
authorized to enter. Security systems must be employed that stop a
vehicle, even one weighing 15 tons going 50 mph, dead in its tracks. That
vehicle must be stopped where you want it stopped.
It's self-evident that the world of physical security has changed in response to the
pervasive threat of terrorism around the globe. Where many facility managers were
once criticized for taking extreme and expensive perimeter security measures, the
question today is not whether to implement them, but simply how best to do it.
Whether a refinery, distribution center or corporate headquarters, finding the
right perimeter security solution is essential to protecting both lives and property.
In this report, we'll look at how to perform a risk assessment for petrochemical
and hydrocarbon facilities, common deficiencies in design, and new threat tactics in
terms of vehicular attacks.
Risk Assessment Starts With Physics 101
When evaluating the security risk for a given facility, particular attention must be
focused on the weights and velocities of vehicles that would be used to attempt
penetration into sensitive areas.
A vehicle moving towards a barricade has a certain kinetic energy, which is the
major measure of how much "hitting power" it possesses. Mathematically, kinetic
energy is derived from the vehicle velocity and its weight (mass). On impact, some of
this energy is converted to heat, sound and permanent deformation of the vehicle. The
barricade must absorb the remainder of this energy if the vehicle is to be stopped.
The amount of remaining energy varies depending on many factors, primarily the
velocity of the vehicle at the moment of impact. The amount of kinetic energy posed by
a vehicle changes as the square of its velocity. For example, a vehicle moving at 50
mph has 25 times as much kinetic energy as it would at 10 mph. Thus, an armored car
weighing 30 times as much as a Toyota Corolla and moving at 10 mph would have less
hitting power than the Toyota moving at 60 mph!
Because of the relationship of velocity to the total kinetic energy possessed by
the vehicle, every effort must be made by the security engineer to force a vehicle to slow
down before it reaches the barricade. The most frequently used technique is to require
a sharp turn immediately in front of the barrier. When vehicle speed is reduced by 50
percent, the "hitting power" is reduced by four times. If the speed is reduced by 2/3rds,
the force of impact will be reduced by nine times.
Upon designing a way to slow down vehicle approach, precautions should also
be taken that the attacking car cannot make a "corner cutting shot" at a barricade.
Often, only a light post defines a turning point and a speeding car can take it out and not
even hesitate. Knolls and other impediments should be considered.
Failing to understand this and not using the proper equipment to counter the
threat may lead to a false sense of security.
Overcoming Common Design Deficiencies
As discussed above, linear thinking won't get you very far when planning a
vehicular perimeter security system. Straight lines make for faster and easier
approaches for vehicles, so it's best to create curves on the access roads to your facility
as a natural impediment to speeding cars or trucks.
Another common planning deficiency occurs when designers choose non-
certified barriers or barricades. Certified equipment has been tested and proven to work
under extreme conditions, giving planners the confidence they rely on.
No area is more critical to the vehicle barrier selection process than testing.
Without adequate testing, there is no assurance that the barrier will resist the threat.
Testing is normally by an independent testing company or government agency, such as
the Department of State (DOS) and military. Comprehensive reports of test results are
issued and are available from the testing agency or manufacturer.
Today's barriers and bollards are capable of stopping and destroying a truck
weighing up to 30,000 pounds and traveling at 50 mph. Such barricades can be raised
or lowered at will to stop traffic or let it through. In an emergency, the thick steel plates
or bollards pop out of the ground within 1.5 seconds.
When integrated properly into a total system, including fences, lights, alarms,
gates, and other security components, vehicle barriers are a key measure in preventing
threats to sensitive resources. It's important to consider supplemental gate and fencing
reinforcements that may also be needed to optimize vehicle barrier effectiveness.
In designing a barrier system, you must also consider whether to use a passive
or active system. Normally, an active system keeps the barrier in the active or up
position. It must be deactivated to permit access. Active systems are preferable to ones
that must be activated to prevent access because they are more secure.
One final area that should not be overlooked is aesthetics. With today's smart
designs, it's no longer necessary to choose between form and function. You can have
them both. Designers are creating secure environments with more compatible and
aesthetically pleasing architectural elements.
If you visit the nation's Capitol today, for example, you’ll see landscaped islands
at the north and south entrance drives which regulate vehicular access. If allowed to
drive into the Capitol complex, you will cross over vehicle control barriers and bollards at
the entrances. Indeed, all exits at the end of all drives are controlled with barriers, which
pop from the ground when needed.
You’ll see similar barriers and bollards at refineries, distribution centers and
headquarters offices of petrochemical and hydrocarbon companies, literally around the
Putting New Vehicular Threat Tactics on the Defensive
By their very nature, terrorist attacks are unpredictable and predicated on
surprise. Staying one step ahead by identifying vulnerable areas, and securing them, is
critical to staving off vehicular attacks.
That means being able to deploy security equipment in tough conditions, at a
moment's notice. Fortunately such equipment now exists in the form of portable,
towable, temporary barriers. These barriers can be deployed quickly and effectively,
even in places where it's impossible to excavate for a permanent foundation, such as the
streets of Paris.
First used successfully to protect NATO troops in Kosovo and elsewhere, these
modular, portable solutions can be rapidly set up on existing concrete or asphalt roads,
level compacted soils and other hard surfaces. No excavation or sub-surface
preparation is required. With portable barriers and barricades, you can begin installation
in the morning and have protection by lunch.
Terrorists typically don't go where they see barricades, so placing them wherever
possible attacks can happen reduces security risks dramatically. Temporary barriers
can protect facilities while permanent ones are being built, and they're even effective for
the long-term where physical conditions preclude permanent solutions.
There are many types of available portable barriers and barricades:
Drop arm barrier: Able to be deployed or relocated for full manual or automatic
operation within two hours, these quick deployment barriers will stop and destroy a
15,000 pound (6,800 kg) truck traveling at 30 mph (48 km/h) in less than 20 feet (6 m).
They secure an entrance roadway eight to 24 feet in width from vehicle attack.
Hydraulic and manual versions are available.
“We have a great need for easy-to-install, temporary, drop-arm beam barriers to
block entrances to embassies or roads to embassies where we don’t have setbacks,”
emphasizes Dusty Rhodes, part of the certification team from the U.S. State
Department. “With this type of barrier, we don’t need to dig up streets.”
According to Jerry Edwards, U.S. Army R & D Deputy Product Manager, Physical
Security Equipment, “This type of barrier provides a new element in force protection both
in the U.S. and overseas. It’s especially relevant for threat conditions in the military,
where there are a series of force protection issues. Having an increased level of
security, when moving from locale to locale, is a big advantage.”
Portable plate barricades: Portable plate barricades provide security against
vehicle-based terrorism or thefts for high-cycle locations such as the entrances to large
office facilities, government agencies and military bases. Able to be deployed in high
traffic locations for full manual or automatic operation within two hours, the quick
deployment modular barricades feature a phalanx-type rising plate barrier mounted
within multiple inertial pods.
The plate barrier lies level to the ground to allow vehicles to pass and is raised or
lowered into position utilizing a hydraulic cylinder driven by a hydraulic power unit. The
hydraulic pumping unit can be sized to provide pass-through rates suitable for most
inspection and identification station requirements.
Towed portable crash barriers: Able to be deployed in 15 minutes, the newest
portable high security vehicle crash barriers can quickly protect facilities and people from
vehicle attacks and accidents. These mobile crash barriers can be towed into position
by a medium-sized pick-up truck or equivalent. The mobile barrier deploys in 15 minutes
and operates locally or remotely for guard protection.
Deployment, retrieval and operation are all hydraulic. The barriers stop and
disable a 15,000 pound G.V.W. (66.7 kN) vehicle moving at 30 mph (48 kph). These
portable crash barriers were built for U.S. Federal government security specialists
wanting a system that could be rapidly deployed and then operated as a regular security
gate or barrier system. They would be just at home protecting a farmer’s market. Once
positioned, the mobile barricade is separated from its transporter and lowered into
position by means of a battery-operated hydraulic power system, which is then used to
raise or lower the barrier for normal or emergency tasks.
The controls to run the barrier can be located on the barrier, at a fixed secure
post, or from a hand-held push button controller. The guard need not go to the barrier to
raise or lower it from its guard position. Within 15 minutes of being sited, the mobile
crash barrier lowers itself into position with built-in hydraulic jacks. There is no hand
cranking. Wheels are stored at the sides and then the vehicle ramps are folded out,
completing the deployment.
Permanent Barriers and Barricades
From parking lot security to stopping vehicles access at refineries, there are a
variety of suitable barricades available. Solutions include high-security surface mounted
barricades, cable beam barricades, high security barriers and very high security, shallow
High security barriers are all crash rated in widths up to 288 inches (7315 mm)
and up to 38 inches high (965 mm). Lowered to allow passage of authorized vehicles,
these barriers are the first line of defense at critical facilities.
High-security surface mounted barricades allow quick installation into difficult
locations such as parking structure ramps or areas with sub-surface drainage problems.
These crash-rated barricades are lowered to allow passage of authorized vehicles and
are available in widths up to 288 inches (7315 mm).
Very high security, shallow foundation barriers are available for advanced
counter-terrorism applications in sub-surface conditions that negate extensive
excavations. This type of barricade was designed for the U.S. Navy. Set in a foundation
only ten to 18 inches deep, these shallow foundation barriers are able to survive and
operate after a 1.2 million foot pound impact. With its shallow foundation and aesthetic
design, they are major breakthroughs in high duty, anti-terrorist barricades.
The shallow foundation barriers eliminate concerns about interference with
buried pipes, power lines and fiber optic communication lines. The shallow foundation
also reduces installation complexity, time, materials and corresponding costs. These
types of barriers are suitable for high water table locations and areas with corrosive
Cable beam barricades are available in hydraulic and manually operated
models. All are crash rated with one version enhanced for higher security applications.
The clear openings range from 10.5 to 24 feet (3200 mm to 7315 mm). One model is
configured as a swing gate for use where vertical lift is impractical. All other models are
raised to allow passage of authorized vehicles.
Bollards Are Buff – And Beautiful
When looking for a bollard solution, you choose the level of security you need.
From protecting a headquarters to a warehouse or even a parked tanker, you can find a
bollard system that will meet your needs.
Bollard systems operate individually or in groups up to ten and are used for
intermediate level security applications. Individual bollards are up to 12.75 inches (323
mm) in diameter, up to 35 inches high (889 mm) and are usually mounted on 3-5 foot
centers. Hydraulic versions can be operated by a variety of control systems. Manual
versions are counter balanced and lock in the up or down position. All models are crash
rated and lower to allow passage of authorized vehicles.
They are tested to stop and destroy an attacking vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds
moving at 65 miles per hour (44.4 Kn at 104 Kph) or a 20,000 pound vehicle moving at
46 miles per hour (88.9 Kn at 74 Kph).
With bollards you can create the look you want. Ranging from faceted, fluted,
tapered, rings and ripples, colors, pillars, to shields, emblems and logos, bollards are
aesthetically pleasing and versatile. You can specify ornamental steel trim attached
directly to the bollard, or select cast aluminum sleeves, which slip right over the crash
tube. Bollards can be galvanized for corrosion resistance, fitted with an internal warning
light for increased visibility and engineered to suit high traffic volume. If damaged,
simply slip off the old and slip on the new.
Other things to consider
Hydraulic Power System Features: The hydraulic power and control system should
have a wide range of security features built into its logic circuits, including power off
operation, dual speed operation for emergency mode actuation, instant reverse, multi-
barricade operation (either tandem or parallel), and operation by radio, card reader,
remote control panel, keyswitch or combinations thereof.
Barricade Control: The barricade control circuit should accept a wide range of control
signals. Radio, card readers, key switches, remote control push button stations or other
security systems can be readily interfaced.
Vehicle Detector Systems: To alert the guards of an approaching high speed vehicle,
be sure that you incorporate a velocity sensor utilizing digital inductive loop technology.
Wire loops are embedded in the roadway at a location distant from the guard booth or
facility entrance. The system can be set to trigger an early warning alarm or actuate the
barricades when a vehicle approaches at a velocity above the user-defined set point.
Safety Loops: In high traffic cycle operations, guards can make errors by pushing
controls at the wrong time, lifting authorized vehicles. If vehicle-sensing loops are
placed in the roadway directly in front and behind the barricade, the coupled loop
detector suppresses accidental operation. The guards still have complete control using
the emergency mode, which overrides the safety loop.
Drainage–Surface and Sub-Surface Water: In many site locations, the barricade is
protected from rain or surface run off so special provisions are not necessary. As the
amount of water entering the barricade foundation, whether from sub surface water or
surface water increases, it is necessary to make provision for its disposal. By far the
best technique is to include a gravity drain. Where the amount of water is negligible, the
sub-surface soil is often porous enough to accept any run off or seepage. You may also
want to install a small capacity, self-priming pump.
Protection from Corrosion: Ask for a coal tar epoxy undercoat for all below grade
structural members and corrosion resistant white gloss enamel for the top surfaces.
Road plates should be texture treated for a non-skid surface. Yellow/black highway
safety striping can alert drivers to the barricade when raised. Galvanizing and/or
sacrificial anodes should be considered when soil conditions are especially harsh.
Temperature Environment: Most barricades can be operated from -20°F to 145°F.
However, it may be necessary at the lower temperatures to protect against incidental
water and slush being carried into the barricade and forming a solid ice mass. A heavy
build up of ice in the barricade cavity could block the movement of the barrier and cause
operational problems. Where this condition is possible, it is recommended that strip
heaters be installed in the foundation to keep the temperature above 32°F.
The hydraulic power system should be in a protected space in extremes of
temperature. If the power unit is inactive for long periods of time in a low temperature
environment, the motor and controls can be slow to respond. It is recommended that the
ambient temperature be maintained above freezing or that a reservoir tank heater be
added to the power system to keep it above 32°F.
Power Off Operation: An optional feature available with some series of barricades is
the ability to operate the barricade even with a power interruption. In this option,
hydraulic fluid is stored under pressure and is available for operating the barricades at
A manual hand pump should also be furnished as standard equipment in event of
a prolonged power blackout or motor/pump failure. Lastly, barricades will usually lower
themselves by gravity without the aid of the pump when the down command is given.
No Application Too Large or Small
Protecting perimeters of refineries and other petrochemical/hydrocarbon facilities
is no small responsibility. Knowing you've got the right equipment in place to secure the
facility and to prevent human tragedy brings a peace of mind that no amount of money
can buy. Carefully researching available options and consulting with experts will
ultimately lead to the right solution.
http://www.brighamscully.com/photos/de/TT210 US Capitol Spring.jpg
U.S. Capitol: TT210 bollards
http://www.brighamscully.com/photos/de/dsc720h.jpg At 50 miles per hour, a vehicle
has 25x the kinetic energy it has at 10 mph.
http://www.brighamscully.com/photos/de/hoover.jpg A portable system, such as this at
the U.S. Department of Commerce Hoover headquarters, can be implemented in a
http://www.brighamscully.com/photos/de/tw4030h.jpg Surface Mount Barricades are
used in applications with difficult implementations such as parking structure ramps or
areas with sub-surface drainage problems.
http://www.brighamscully.com/photos/de/courthouse1h.jpg This barrier protects the New
York Federal Courthouse and was put in just prior to the bin Laden trial for the original
Twin Towers parking garage bombing.
MP5000 Towed http://www.brighamscully.com/photos/de/MP5000-transporting.jpg
Reagan Presidential Library http://www.brighamscully.com/photos/de/IMG_1098.jpg