Following the deadly explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, lawmakers in DC are seeking a review of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorist Standards (CFATS) which was established in 2007. The program was designed to protect high-risk chemical plants and other facilities from terrorist threats.
Both the Energy & Commerce Committee and the Homeland Security Committee have asked President Obama to set up an expert commission to assess security risks at chemical plants, refineries and other similar processing facilities. An investigation of the West, Texas accident has uncovered that the facility never submitted the required documents under CFATS, yet the Department of Homeland Security was completely unaware.
The House Appropriations Committee is considering withholding $20 Million in funding for HSD in 2014 until it delivers a progress report and spending plan in this failing program. Representatives of Congress have cited “a distressing lack of progress” in improving homeland security through this initiative. In particular, the CFATS program has come under high scrutiny by Congress after it was revealed to have management and production issues. While 4351 facilities have been identified as covered under this program, only 73 Chemical Security Plans have been authorized. Very few facilities have been visited as part of the authorization process.