Environmental Protection

SOCMA Partners with DHS for July Security Summit

Next week's 2010 Chemical Sector Security Summit in Baltimore is perfectly timed, now that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has confirmed her Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) reauthorization bill (S. 2996) is headed for a committee markup later this month.

The July 7-8 event at the Hilton Baltimore is co-located with an expo featuring about 25 exhibitors. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano is the July 7 keynote speaker, and the event's program is littered with high-ranking DHS officials serving as speakers or moderators.

All of the elements of CFATS will be addressed in presentations, from cybersecurity and terrorist threats to background checks, inherently safer technologies (IST), CFATS inspections, transportation security, security vulnerability assessments (SVAs), and more. The event is co-sponsored by DHS and the Chemical Sector Coordinating Council and co-funded by DHS and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, Inc. (SOCMA), which will provide live updates from the event via http://twitter.com/SOCMA.

"We're real proud of our relationship with DHS. This is the fourth consecutive meeting that's co-funded between DHS and SOCMA, and we want to note we are the only trade association here in Washington ─ or anywhere, for that matter ─ that's partnering with a government agency like DHS to put on an event like this," said Larry Sloan, president and chief executive officer of the association. "So we're very proud of it. The attendance has grown year in and year out. We've got a waiting list now of over 100."

Attendees of the event are security, EHS, and transportation professionals from the chemicals industry. Current top concerns for SOCMA's members are CFATS reauthorization and Toxic Substances Control Act reform, said Bill Allmond, SOCMA Government Relations vice president.

CFATS compliance challenges the members because most of them are relatively small companies with fewer than 150 employees on average, Sloan said. "They don't have the resources that larger chemical and other manufacturing companies have," he said. "And so the time required to complete these assessments is a factor."

SOCMA's five-year-old ChemStewards program has helped to instill a security-minded culture within the industry, he added. Mandatory for SOCMA's North American members, ChemStewards is an EHS&S continuous improvement program that applies to every facility operated by members. (To mark the program's fifth anniversary, SOCMA will present a series of Webinars Oct. 18-22, ChemStewards Week, and also a contest to win a free ChemStewards audit.)

Similarly, cybersecurity and background checks are a challenge for member companies, again because of their staff size and resources, Sloan said. Internal threats are of greater concern to the members than external threats on the whole, and in that area, he said SOCMA has learned DHS will expect them to conduct theft and diversion risk assessments.

Members at this point haven't gone through the DHS inspection program; DHS started with Tier 1, the highest priority, and members are not in that classification, Sloan said. Among SOCMA's 235 members, 76 percent are manufacturers, and 87 percent of the manufacturer members have less than $40 million in annual sales, while 9 percent are at $40 million to $150 million and 3 percent are at $150 million to $500 million annually.

"We've not heard from any of our members that they're going to have trouble with the process. Members are stepping up to the plate and doing what they have to do," Allmond said. There is a paperwork burden, he said, because the DHS SVA process is different from SOCMA's and others' methodologies. SOCMA's methodology is comprehensive and at one point was accepted by DHS, but later the federal agency decided to require all companies covered by CFATS to utilize the DHS methodology ─ which means many member companies must complete both, Allmond said.

SOCMA offers information about CFATS, TSCA, and other chemical industry issues at http://www.chemalliance.org/. One of the best tools available on the site for industry professionals and the public is the Virtual Plant Tour, Sloan said.

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