The Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD) is charged with approving or denying Site Security Plans (SSPs). For those facilities that are initially approved, an onsite facility inspection is the next step in the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) lifecycle. In 2011, ISCD will likely conduct many such Inspections. To date, a small number of facilities have undergone this Authorization Inspection, a step required by regulation before the SSP is formally approved.
Starting in early 2010, however, ISCD began Pre-Authorization Inspections (PAIs) at Tier 1 facilities and has conducted approximately 150 PAIs to date. Although the PAI is not an official part of the CFATS regulation, ISCD initiated the PAI because the SSPs that were received did not have sufficient detail to allow ISCD to make an initial approval or denial decision. Among other reasons, the "yes/no" format of the SSP made it very difficult for facilities to provide a complete "picture" of security measures relative to the Risk-Based Performance Standards (RBPS) expectations for the applicable Chemicals of Interest (COIs) and COI Security Issues (Release, Theft/Diversion, and Sabotage). In other words, without frequent use of the "other" boxes it was difficult for ISCD to interpret and apply the data. ISCD needed to obtain better information from facilities – and the PAI process represents the mechanism by which ISCD made physical site contact and communicated SSP expectations.
The format of the PAI is largely fixed: between three and six ISCD Inspectors travel to the facility for a period of two to four days. Among other things, there is a facility tour and discussions regarding security measures. Arguably, the most important aspect of the PAI is the predetermined outcome: the requirement to resubmit the SSP within a defined time, usually between 20 and 45 calendar days after the SSP is returned to the facility via the Chemical Security Assessment Tool. In this regard, the PAI may be considered a rejection of the initial SSP and the start of the resubmission process – but this time with significantly more detail. It is unknown whether and to what degree PAIs will continue for the remainder of 2011 and how PAIs may (or may not) be applied to Tier 2, 3, and 4 sites.
There are resources that discuss the PAI and provide more detail on the SSP process. In December 2010, ISCD published its "Helpful Tips for Completing a Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Site Security Plan." Private sector resources have also been published, such as "CFATS: Surviving the Site Security Plan, Tips for Inspection and Resubmission," published by ADT in January 2011.
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Content contributed by Steve Roberts, of the Houston, Texas-based Roberts Law Group. Roberts is an attorney who advises chemical and petrochemical companies on homeland security regulations, especially the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards.