House Hearing on Ammonium Nitrate
The House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies recently held a hearing entitled “Securing Ammonium Nitrate: Using Lessons Learned in Afghanistan to Protect the Homeland from IEDs.”
Although the hearing was a closed session due to the sensitive nature of the information contained in the testimony, written witnesses statements were released publicly. Among the testifying witnesses was Mr. John P. Woods, Assistant Director, Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Mr. Woods testified regarding Program Global Shield, a multilateral international law enforcement effort aimed at eliminating the smuggling of precursor chemicals commonly used in Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks. Mr. Woods noted that the mass production of ammonium nitrate and other precursor chemicals occurs largely beyond the borders of countries most afflicted by IEDs. Therefore, a global effort is essential to effectively combat the smuggling and diversion of those chemicals.
To date, 79 countries and 11 international organizations participate in Global Shield, and as of early June 2012, 40 enforcement actions and 41 seizures totaling 125.16 metric tons of precursor chemicals have occurred as a result of Global Shield. Programs such as Global Shield are vital to ensuring the security of the global supply chain, and as evidenced by these statistics, actually do prevent these dangerous chemicals from falling into the wrong hands.
Importantly, approximately one year ago, DHS issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its Ammonium Nitrate Security Program – which would regulate the sale and transfer of ammonium nitrate domestically. Although ammonium nitrate is a regulated Chemical of Interest (COI) under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), the proposed Ammonium Nitrate Security Program imposes limitations on the sale and transfer of ammonium nitrate specifically while CFATS is focused on facility security generally.
The Ammonium Nitrate Security Program was not discussed at the hearing, and in his opening statement, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), Chairman, noted his disappointment that the National Protection and Programs Directorate (the DHS agency responsible for development of the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program) declined to send a witness to participate in the hearing. DHS has not yet indicated any specific timetable for publication of a final rule but I will continue to follow the issue closely and report on it as soon as we hear some news.
By guest blogger Michelle Goebel - Director, Marketing/Petrochemical & Energy at Tyco Integrated Security
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