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.
The bill, presented by Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Gene Green (D-TX), and Michael McCaul (R-TX), was a continuation of a previous Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program which was created in June 2007 due to the events of 9/11. The purpose of this new, recently passed bill is to secure the DHS’s authority to regulate security at certain chemical facilities around the United States through 2017.
CFATS outlines security requirements for facilities that use, manufacture or store and handle specific quantities of chemicals that the DHS defines as extremely dangerous. It will ensure that domestic industrial facilities using hazardous chemicals do not fall victim to terrorist attacks that could be disastrous for surrounding communities.
CFATS requires covered chemical facilities to conduct Security Vulnerability Assessments (SVA), which will detect facility security vulnerabilities, and to develop and implement Site Security Plans, which include measures that satisfy the risk-based performance standards laid out by the program.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman, Michael McCaul (R-TX), said the program would help prevent events like the April 18, 2013 ammonium nitrate explosion at a West, Texas fertilizer facility. If a SVA had been conducted and submitted for that plant, inadequacies would have been noted, and hopefully corrected.
“This bipartisan bill … makes Americans safer by improving security standards at thousands of chemical facilities across our nation,” said Rep. Meehan. And while the explosion in West was accidental, Meehan went on to say, “The explosion in West, Texas last year demonstrated how catastrophic an attack on one of these facilities would be. It is vitally important that we ensure our first responders have adequate knowledge of where these facilities are located. This bill does that.”
Many chemical associations are praising this newly passed bill. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) congratulated the House on CFATS; noting that:
“This bill will provide the operational stability that DHS has sorely needed to make CFATS successful, and help the agency recruit and retain top talent to effectively implement the program.”
Additionally, the Society of Chemical Manufacterers and Affiliates also praised this bill by Tweeting: “Thank you @RepMeehan and @HouseHomeland for all your hard work on HR 4007!”
Meehan commented that “[The bill] is supported by Republicans, Democrats and the Secretary of Homeland Security. It’s an example of bipartisanship all too rare in Washington today.”
Emilcott has been helping our clients manage hazardous materials for over 25 years. We can provide Security Vulnerability Assessments, emergency response planning and all levels of employee training from HazCom to First Responder.