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Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire

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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