Environmental Protection

Chemical Security Bill Concerns NACD

The Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Act of 2009 H.R. 2868), introduced June 15, makes the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) permanent and enhances the program by making facilities, as a part of their vulnerability assessments, analyze how they can change their internal processes to reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack at their facility, according to bill sponsors.

"This legislation will help ensure that this vital industry, and the population that lives around these facilities, are safe and secure. After years of work and discussions with key stakeholders, we have produced a comprehensive and common-sense chemical security bill," said Committee on Homeland Security Chair Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.).

Committee on Energy and Commerce Chair Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said: "Chemical facilities are often terrorist targets because of the lethal chemicals they use and store onsite. This bill will protect workers at and neighbors of chemical facilities by asking the highest risk facilities to switch to safer chemicals and processes when feasible. I will also continue working with members of the Energy and Commerce Committee to complete legislation to give EPA the authority to require strong security standards for our nation's drinking water facilities."

In preparation for a June 18, full House Homeland Security Committee markup of the bill, the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) sent a letter to committee members outlining several concerns.

NACD said it has concerns with the following:

  • Changes to the program included in H.R. 2868 are premature and that Congress should allow the regulation to be fully implemented and evaluated before changing the requirements.
  • The cost to distributors of conducting required assessments of methods to reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack, Distributors generally store, repackage, and transport, rather than manufacture chemicals, the assessments would produce limited options that would not justify the cost and effort of the exercise.
  • The bill is too prescriptive. It requires facilities to conduct periodic drills and exercises that include local law enforcement and emergency responders, which may not have the time or resources to participate in the process.
  • The provision to allow citizen lawsuits for perceived non-compliance. The civil and administrative penalties that DHS can impose are incentive enough to comply with the law.

To read a copy of the NACD letter, visit http://www.nacd.com/advocacy/comments.aspx.

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