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Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire

House Passes Bill to Strengthen Chemical Facility Security

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Aug 19, 2014 10:43:00 AM

Terrorism threats on chemical facilities in the US? On Tuesday, July 8, 2014, the House passed the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Security (CFATS) Program Authorization and Accountability Act of 2014 (HR 4007), in order to protect against such threats.

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Topics: CFATS, Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Security (CFATS), Security Vulnerability Assessments (SVA)

2011: A Year In Recap

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jan 4, 2012 3:29:54 AM

Bringing in the New Year is always an exciting time for everyone. People enjoy setting new goals, looking forward to the journey that the New Year brings and starting that resolution they promise they are going to keep. While the New Year brings many things to look forward to, it also is a time where we look back at the year that has passed and take a moment to reflect on what has happened.

At Emilcott, 2011 was a successful year where we were able to tackle new projects, serve our clients and continue to respond to current industry issues in the environmental, health and safety field. Though we have had many great memories from 2011, we would like to mention some of the things that stood out most in our business for 2011.

Hurricane Irene – the immense and powerful Atlantic hurricane that left a path of destruction and devastation was something that definitely stands out in 2011. We remember this event not only because of the wreckage caused by the storm, but also because of the after effects. The staff at Emilcott recognized the importance of addressing the legacy of water intrusion and the promise of mold after the storm and stressed to clients the importance of “timing” to address how to respond to this problem, as well as the importance of selecting the proper remediation technique along with an EHS mold expert and Emilcott’s mold remediation strategy. (Read more: Hurricane Irene Leaves a Legacy of Water Intrusion and the Promise of Mold)

Energy Sector – Emilcott has been thrilled to be able to participate in many different initiatives within the energy sector.  Regionally important to the growth of our economy, the ongoing infrastructure improvements have given us substantial health and safety support work. In EHSWire during 2011 we addressed many occupational hazards as Occupational Heat-related Illnesses where we went over the symptoms that workers may experience, as well as what should be done if someone does experience these symptoms. Besides dealing with working conditions such as heat, Emilcott also provided information on the truths about occupational slips, trips and falls which ended up costing American businesses $13.67 billion in workers compensation costs in 2008. Adhering to proper safety protocols and preventing injuries is something that benefits businesses and their workers. OSHA provides a Walking/Working Surfaces – Safety and Health Topic page which provides links to all the applicable standards.

With issues such as heat affecting the health of workers to preventing injuries on job sites, Emilcott has seen our fair share of mishaps. Being able to share our experiences and knowledge with others never gets old. From teaching someone the hazards about working near a crane, or things you should do when working in certain environments, Emilcott has always tried keeping people in the loop. We even have a 10-Hour Construction Industry Outreach Training Course based on the requirements established by OSHA which is a very hands-on and interactive class that we recommend to avoid a future work related issue. (Read more: Work Near a CRANE? Learn the Hazards!)

9/11 Tenth Anniversary – focused the changes that have occurred since 9/11/2001 such as the new precautions that have taken place on the American Chemical Security issue.   The DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) has been increasing their focus on utilities and chemical facilities which may become targets for terrorist activities and the DHS Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard (CFATS) now requires completing and submitting a Top Screen analysis to the DHS.

The James Zadroga Act , which was authorized to broaden, renew funding and extend benefits to Ground Zero workers whose death was a result of exposure, is of great significance and has put new emphasis on the importance of proper real-time environmental site monitoring. New technologies are available to protect site workers and the public from exposure to hazardous substances such as those from the collapse of the WTC towers. (Read more: 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Focuses on American Chemical Security)

Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) – was of major importance not only to Emilcott, but also to facilities who are manufacturers or importers of chemicals in amounts of 25,000 pounds or greater. With so many questions regarding TSCA and the changes, Emilcott decided to put on a free webinar along with posting a number of blogs that answered many of the concerns our clients had. Emilcott was able to use its expertise and help many clients with TSCA compliance questions and concerns regarding the developments of IUR reporting and reporting obligations in 2011 for the calendar year 2010. (Read more: August 2011 Update on the TSCA IUR-now-CDR Rule)

Though Emilcott has had many remarkable memories of 2011, we felt these 4 really left an impression on our business. Emilcott is privileged to know that we were able to assist our clients in many different businesses not only in 2011, but throughout our history. Emilcott looks forward to a productive 2012 and we are excited to see what this year has in store for us.

Do you have any environmental, health or safety concerns for 2012? If so, please share them with us below!
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Topics: Emilcott, OSHA, health and safety, CFATS, Hazardous Materials, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, TSCA, Toxic Substance Control Act, Uncategorized, Mold

9/11 Tenth Anniversary Focuses on American Chemical Security

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Aug 7, 2011 10:21:05 PM

Dian Cucchisi, PhD, CHMM

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) is increasing their focus on utilities and chemical facilities which may become targets for terrorist activities.  In a recent ABC news release DHS Press Secretary Matt Chandler is quoted as saying “While DHS has no specific, credible intelligence of an imminent threat posed to the private sector utilities, several recent incidents highlight the on-going threat to infrastructure in the utility sectors from insiders and outsiders seeking facility-specific information that might be exploited in an attack.” Click here to view the complete Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis note regarding: Insider Threat to Utilities.

With many Emilcott public and private sector clients involved in the manufacture and/or processing of chemicals, we are often called in to assist with regulatory submissions detailing chemical usage, storage, import and export.  Since 9/11, this reporting has grown to include not just environmental and human health hazards but also those that could present a potential risk to our national security. In October 2010, we addressed this new chemical reporting requirement in  EHSWire post “Homeland Security and Chemicals of Interest”.  Starting in the latter half of 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reviewed various databases maintained by regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, to help them identify facilities that may need to comply with the DHS Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard (CFATS).  Compliance with CFATS requires completing and submitting a Top Screen analysis to the DHS.  If a facility is listed in another database for storing using “chemicals of interest” and had not submitted a Top Screen analysis, the DHS sent the facility a letter with the option to complete the Top Screen within 90 days or to write a letter to DHS certifying that the CFATS requirements do not apply to the facility.

The Top Screen analysis is used by the DHS to assign a “threat level Tier” to your facility.  If your facility was assigned to Tier 4, DHS feels that there is a low level of risk that chemicals at your facility would be stolen or used for malicious purposes.  Being assigned to Tier 1 means that the DHS feels that there is a high level of risk that the chemicals at your facility would be stolen or used for malicious purposes.  “Only facilities that submitted Security Vulnerability Assessments and were subsequently notified in writing by the Department they have been finally determined to be high-risk have access via CSAT to complete and submit the CSAT Site Security Plan (SSP)

Have you completed your Top Screen?  Did you make any changes to your facility or operations to reduce your Tier level if you were assigned to Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3? Do you have any concerns about the tenth anniversary and your facility?
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Topics: CFATS, Emergency Response, Homeland Security, Compliance, top-screen, chemicals of interest, DHS, threat level tier

Homeland Security and Your Chemicals of Interest

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Oct 18, 2010 1:16:51 AM

Dian Cucchisi, PhD, CHMM

Has your facility received a phone call from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asking you to provide information on the chemicals that you use and what measures you have in place to ensure that those chemicals do not fall into the wrong hands?  If so, you are not alone.  (If not, read on to be prepared!) The DHS is currently reviewing other government databases to determine what facilities in the United States are using “chemicals of interest.”

Prior to September 11, 2001 our nation concentrated on nuclear bombs and chemical/biological warfare as potential weapons of mass destruction that could be used against us.  On September 11, 2001 we watched as two jet airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center causing the deaths of more than 3,000 people.  Rewind the clock back to February 26, 1993.  Most of us remember the first bombing of the World Trade Center when nitroglycerin, ammonium nitrate, and smokeless powder were mixed together to create the bomb.  These are just two examples of the use of common industrial chemicals to create weapons of mass destruction.

In response to the growing awareness that chemical manufacturing facilities (as well as other facilities that store certain chemicals) may be potential targets for attack or theft by individuals wishing to use the chemicals in terrorist acts, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) passed the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) on April 9, 2007. On November 20, 2007, DHS published Appendix A to CFATS providing a list of chemicals known as Chemicals of Interest (COI) and their threshold quantities. 

The CFATS require all facilities that manufacture, use, store, or distribute chemicals above the threshold quantities listed in Appendix A to complete a screening process known as the “ Top Screen” within 60 days.  The Top Screen is used by the DHS to assign the facility to one of four risk-based tier levels ranging from Tier 1 (high) to Tier 4 (low).  The DHS will notify the facility of the need to complete and submit a Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) and a Site Security Plan (SSP).

The DHS reviews the databases maintained by agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine if there are other facilities that may be required to submit a Top Screen.  Facilities that have not submitted a Top Screen may be notified by the DHS.  The facility will then be required to complete the Top Screen or notify the DHS in writing that the CFATS do not apply to their facility.

If you are a chemical manufacturer or perhaps just a user of qualifying amounts of chemicals, have you heard from the Department of Homeland Security? What did you think when you did hear from them?  If you haven’t even heard of CFATS, are you going to do anything to be prepared?
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Topics: CFATS, EPA, Emergency Response, Homeland Security, chemical manufacturer, top-screen, chemicals of interest, anti-terrorism

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