Akzo Nobel N.V., the world's biggest coatings manufacturer, announced the establishment of a $1 million charitable fund to support families of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington and to assist emergency-aid efforts. Akzo Nobel also invited its U.S.-based companies to establish their own aid plans.

The Netherlands-based chemicals, coatings and pharmaceuticals giant was joined by several other industry companies in launching programs to assist organizations involved in relief efforts related to the attacks.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an advisory urging shippers and transporters of hazardous materials to consider altering their routes to avoid populated areas "whenever practicable," and to take other safety precautions as a result of a heightened state of alert related to the threat of further terrorist actions.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta urged transportation workers to "watch for and report any suspicious activities they may see." Hazardous-materials vehicles should not be left unattended, and "companies should ensure that hazardous materials are in responsible and reliable hands," he said. Suspicious activities should be immediately reported through 911.

Mineta also said hazardous materials carriers would be "under close observation from both state and local officials for improper placarding and for trucks that are traveling along unusual or unexpected routes." State and local authorities have been advised to take control of vehicles "off normal routes," he said.

The FBI asked the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) to urge its members to increase security measures and be alert for "suspicious persons and customer orders." The bureau said companies should contact local FBI offices if concerns about such cases arise.

The NACD issued a series of suggestions to its member companies regarding security measures, including advice to maintain high levels of security at facilities; being careful in admitting visitors to facilities; monitoring deliveries of materials to facilities; contacting local emergency officials to advise them of security efforts and determine any assistance they may need from you; and being prepared to handle inquiries from the media and the public regarding your operations.

"Be prepared to handle the question, 'What is the worst thing that could happen at your facility if a terrorist were to act'" the NACD said in its advisory. "Declining to give an elaborate answer to that question may be very advisable given the continuing potential for further terrorist actions."

The NACD's advisory is available

from the association's website at www.nacd.com.