Thursday, January 04, 2007

DHS Regs To Improve Security At Chemical Facilities

Dec 22: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made available for public review what it said is an aggressive and comprehensive set of proposed regulations that will improve security at high-risk chemical facilities nationwide. The proposed regulations were published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2006, as an Advanced Notice of Rulemaking entitled, Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, and will be available for public comment until February 7, 2007 [71 FR 78275-78332]. In October 2006, the President signed the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, H.R. 5441, which contained language requiring the Department to regulate security at the nation’s “high-risk” chemical facilities.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said, “The consequences of an attack at a high risk chemical facility could be severe for the health and safety of the citizens in the area and for the national economy. Congress has provided the department with a critical new authority to set performance standards that are both sensible and disciplined, allowing owners and operators the flexibility to determine an appropriate mix of security measures at their facility under our supervision and subject to our approval. We’re grateful for this new authority, and we intend to implement it quickly and apply it aggressively."

The proposed regulations require that chemical facilities fitting certain profiles complete a secure online risk assessment to assist in determining their overall level of risk. High-risk facilities will then be required to conduct vulnerability assessments and submit site security plans that meet the department’s performance standards. The department will validate submissions through audits and site inspections, and will provide technical assistance to facility owners and operators as needed. Performance standards will be designed to achieve specific outcomes, such as securing the perimeter and critical targets, controlling access, deterring theft of potentially dangerous chemicals, and preventing internal sabotage. Security strategies necessary to satisfy these standards will depend upon the level of risk at each facility.

The proposed regulations provide chemical facilities with two quick and simple opportunities to challenge the disapproval of a site security plan. Failure to comply with performance standards may result in civil penalties up to $25,000 per day, and egregious instances of noncompliance could result in an order to cease operations.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) President & CEO Jack Gerard issued a statement saying that ACC and its members "recognize our obligations to secure our facilities and the chemicals we produce. Following 9/11, without waiting for the federal government, members of ACC moved aggressively to secure their facilities and have invested more than $3.5 billion enhancing security under ACC’s Responsible Care® Security Code... DHS is now authorized to establish risk-based performance standards to ensure that high-risk chemical facilities assess security vulnerabilities and develop and implement security plans. Equally important, DHS has clear enforcement authority to inspect these facilities and apply strong penalties to those that fail to properly address security. This represents a major step forward in the effort to secure America’s chemical industry, an essential part of the nation’s critical infrastructure. ACC looks forward to providing comment during the rulemaking process and will continue working closely with DHS in securing the nation’s critical chemical assets.”

Access a DHS release (
click here). Access the FR announcement (click here). Access the DHS website and contact information for the proposed regulations (click here). Access the ACC release (click here). Access the 10/2/06 WIMS article and links on the legislation approval posted on the WIMS-eNewsUSA Blog (click here). [*Haz]

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