Congress Renews Antiterrorism Program

Antiterrorism: New law extended security requirements for chemical facilities

Glenn Hess

 CFATS requires high-risk facilities to install a variety of physical security measures. Credit: Randy Montoya/Sandia National Laboratories

CFATS requires high-risk facilities to install a variety of physical security measures.
Credit: Randy Montoya/Sandia National Laboratories

As 2014 drew to a close, Congress gave the chemical industry the regulatory certainty that companies have sought for years. Lawmakers extended for four years a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiative that seeks to protect the nation’s industrial facilities against the risks of terrorist attack.

Without dissent, the Senate and House of Representatives passed legislation (H.R. 4007) to reauthorize the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Program, which DHS created in 2007 under a congressional directive.

Extending CFATS for years to come has been a high priority for chemical manufacturers. Congress had been continuing the program on a year-to-year basis.

“Regulated manufacturers are investing millions of dollars in capital and personnel resources to ensure their facilities are safe against terrorist attacks,” said Lawrence D. Sloan, president of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates, a trade group for specialty chemical makers. The four-year renewal will “ensure that these expenditures today will be relevant for the purposes of complying with the CFATS program tomorrow,” Sloan said.

Under CFATS, industrial facilities that make, use, or store certain quantities of any of more than 300 hazardous chemicals must assess their risks and submit site security plans to DHS for review and approval. Facilities must then implement protective measures based on their level of risk.

To help clear up a backlog of site security plans awaiting approval, the new law allows small facilities deemed lower risk by DHS to “self-certify” their compliance with CFATS. It also includes new whistle-blower protections for plant employees who report unsafe conditions.

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