CFATS E-News: CFATS -- Not Just for Chemical and Petrochemical Facilities

CFATS was passed by Congress as part of the Homeland Security Appropriations Act in 2007 and was meant to identify and regulate "high risk chemical facilities."

By Ryan Loughin, Director of Petrochemical & Energy Solutions for the Advanced Integration division of ADT

The name CFATS (Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards) can be misleading.  It sounds like regulations specifically for the chemical and petrochemical industries and invokes images of large imposing plants pumping out huge quantities of chemicals.  But a closer look at the standards shows that CFATS was passed by Congress as part of the Homeland Security Appropriations Act in 2007 and was meant to identify and regulate "high risk chemical facilities." That includes more than just plants that process and manufacture chemicals.  It means any business or facility manufacturing, processing, using or storing specific chemicals in quantity unless exempt by statute or rule. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), industries affected by CFATS might include the following:


  •  chemical manufacturing, storage and distribution
  •  energy and utilities
  •  agriculture and food
  •  pharmaceuticals
  •  healthcare
  •  paints and coatings
  •  plastics
  •  paper mills
  •  electronics
  •  higher education
  •  explosives
  •  mining


DHS has identified more than 300 chemicals as "chemicals of interest" (COIs).  Facilities that have one or more of these chemicals in quantities above the screening threshold quantity (STQ) must complete an online screening analysis or a "top screen."  The online analysis then determines whether or not the facility is high risk.  If it is considered high risk it will be assigned a preliminary tier level between 1 and 4 with one being at the highest risk level.  Once a facility has received its final tier ranking it has 120 days to submit a Site Security Plan (SSP) addressing the Risked-Based Performance Standards (RBPS) set out by DHS for its tier.

CFATS can affect any business or facility from a major petrochemical plant to a hospital or food processing plant.  Colleges and universities with research facilities using chemicals might be subject to the standards as would some fertilizer plants or electronics manufacturers.  So far, DHS has indicated that about 34,000 facilities have submitted top screens and of those, about 7,000 were notified they are at risk.  But, experts believe there are a number of businesses and facilities out there that should submit a top screen but may not realize the mandate applies to them.

According to DHS there are some exemptions to CFATS.  These include the following:


  •  Facilities regulated under the Maritime Transportation Safety Act (MTSA) of 2002
  •  Public Water Systems, as defined in the Safe Drinking Water Act
  •  Water Treatment Facilities as defined in the Federal Water Pollution Control Act
  •  Facilities owned or operated by the Department of Defense or the Department of Energy
  •  Facilities subject to regulation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)


CFATS applies to a wide-range of facilities and businesses that use and store chemicals.  Many of these facilities have not really had to address security measures beyond the typical burglar alarm or night guard to protect them from common thievery.  CFATS will mean that they have to look at their security measures in a whole new light.  They will have to take measures to protect their facilities and the chemicals in them from potential terrorist attacks.

While today there appears to be a greater emphasis on security and hiring security personnel, many facilities have not yet made that move.  Often, the health and safety officer in these businesses has had to step up and take on the additional job of security and CFATS compliance.  That makes it even more important for facilities to select a security partner with knowledge of the industry, DHS and CFATS compliance.  Working together with certified security professionals can help navigate though the process of meeting the mandates and also provide the overall benefits of safety and security for employees and the surrounding community.

To view the complete CFATS e-newsletter this article was featured in, click here.

 Ryan Loughin is Director of Petrochemical & Energy Solutions for the Advanced Integration division of ADT– He provides security education to CFATS and MTSA-affected companies and is a member of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA), Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Associates (SOCMA), Energy Security Council (ESC) and American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS). Loughin has also completed multiple levels of CVI Authorized User training (Chemical- Terrorism Vulnerability Information) which was authored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. To learn more download the paper: Ten Tips for Completing a Site Security Plan

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