Get ready to comply with new security mandates

New anti-terrorism standards require the Department of Homeland Security to identify and regulate "high-risk chemical facilities." These facilities will be subject to a security vulnerability assessment. Where does your plant fit in with these new standards?

By David A. Moore and Dorothy Kellogg, AcuTech Consulting Group

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(15) Reporting of Significant Security Incidents. Report significant security incidents to the Department and to local law enforcement officials;

(16) Significant Security Incidents and Suspicious Activities. Identify, investigate, report, and maintain records of significant security incidents and suspicious activities in or near the site;

(17) Officials and Organization. Establish official(s) and an organization responsible for security and for compliance with these standards;

(18) Records. Maintain appropriate records; and

(19) Address any additional performance standards the Assistant Secretary may specify.

 

The DHS will issue guidance to assist owners/operators of covered facilities to implement security programs that will meet or exceed the RBPS, thereby providing concomitant levels of security from these threats. This guidance should be available by July 2007, in time for the rollout of CFATS.

The Act dramatically changes DHS’s role from simply advising the chemicals sector to enforcing standards. However, DHS fully intends to continue and even enhance voluntary efforts in the same manner as other regulatory agencies have undertaken advisory, voluntary and compliance programs simultaneously.

National and international implications


CFATS is a unique regulation in that, through a progressive approach of national screening, tiering, vulnerability analysis and performance standards, it defines a risk-based approach to security of the sector. Some may find the process unclear as they try to understand the expectations of the Department in a non-specific performance-based rule. Others will be anxious to understand whether the investments they have made to date in security will suffice. The only way to fully determine that is by going through the complete, sequential process of CFATS, which will take time. Final plan approval only comes after an onsite inspection by the Department.

Inspections, which will be done by Federal inspectors purposely trained and assigned to this duty for higher-tier facilities and third-party inspectors for lower tiers, will introduce a new dimension to security of the sector. Industry undoubtedly is anxious to understand the role that inspectors will have in reviewing plans and conducting onsite visits to verify compliance.

While Congress didn’t mandate consideration of inherently safer technology (see http://www.chemicalprocessing.com/articles/2004/33.html), i.e., approaches that focus on the nature and quantity of materials and their processing conditions, to lower potential consequences, this may become an increasingly popular option. Companies may choose to substitute or reduce to the extent feasible the use of listed chemicals to avoid falling under the regulations or to achieve a lower tier level. This argues that it is a business case to decide the balance between higher standards of security or lower impact of risks.

The most contentious issue at this time is the list of chemicals of interest that DHS proposed to regulate and the associated STQ. Many in industry certainly hope that DHS, in its pursuit of comprehensive national screening and regulation, will find certain applications to be exempt or outside of intended areas of interest when the final list is published in July. Unless the proposed list is significantly shortened, it will snare a vast number of unintended facilities and will have a large impact due to the sheer volume of work required to catalog uses and facts about the substances for the Top-Screen.

No doubt some industries will be surprised to realize the significance of the security measures and associated costs required to achieve the performance demanded by DHS. As stated in the regulatory evaluation associated with the rule, “DHS currently estimates that as many as 50,000 facilities will register and complete a Top-Screen to better define the population of facilities to be covered by the IFR [Interim Final Rule]... DHS’s best estimate, based on currently available information, is that there will be 5,000 high-risk chemical facilities that will be required to comply with requirements of the IFR. Using the point estimate of 5,000 high-risk chemical facilities, the estimated present value cost of this interim final rule is $3.6 billion over the period 2006-2009 (7% discount rate)… Over the period 2006-2015, DHS estimates the present value cost of this interim final rule would be $8.5 billion (7% discount rate).” Of course, the final number of facilities and the security measures and costs required won’t be fully understood until the rule is fully implemented.

These new expenses add to the pressures on U.S. industry, which already must contend with other competing demands for funds and competitive issues in the new global economy. This is part of the new reality of the post 9/11 era — that homeland security consideration is an integral part of every industry, especially if the facilities play an important role in the national infrastructure or could be abused to cause public harm. Other nations have or are adopting similar security requirements, which set new expectations for the sector.

David A. Moore, PE, CSP, is president and CEO of AcuTech Consulting Group, Alexandria, Va. Dorothy Kellogg, MPA, is a senior consultant for the firm. E-mail them at dmoore@acutech-consulting.com and dkellogg@acutech-consulting.com.

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