Where Is CFATS Legislation?

If we are going to talk about chemical facility security, discussing CFATS would be top of mind. There is a lot of good background information available from DHS and other consultants and integrators.  But, the question is where is CFATS legislation right now? 

In late 2006, Congress passed the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007, which included the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards.  CFATS was meant to establish security standards for facilities considered to be at high risk.  This original legislation gave DHS three years to develop and implement the program. It was set to expire in October 2009.

During the three years it is estimated that more than 32,000 facilities have submitted an online analysis or "top screen" to DHS and they have identified close to 7,000 of those as high risk.  Based on the "top screens" submitted, DHS assigns a risk level or "tier" - from 1 to 4 with 1 having the highest risk level.  Once facilities have their tiering letter they must put together a security site plan for review.

In October 2009, the Senate passed H.R. 2892 to extend CFATS until October 2010.  That gave lawmakers a year to work on permanent or longer-term legislation.  Here is a rundown of CFATS legislation over the past few months.

- On Nov. 6, 2009, the House passed H.R. 2868, the Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009. This legislation would make CFATS permanent and contains a provision for IST (Inherently Safer Technologies).  It would also bring water and wastewater treatment facilities under CFATS.  The legislation was sent to the Senate.

- In Feb. 2010, a bipartisan group of senators introduced S.2996, which would keep CFATS in its current form and extend ituntil 2015.

- On March 3, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs held a chemical security hearing with testimony from key governmental agencies, unions and industry associations.

So that is where we are right now.  It doesn't look like the Senate is inclined to vote on the House bill and with the focus on healthcare, stimulus fundingand the upcoming mid-term elections there doesn't appear to be a lot ofattention on CFATS.  That doesn't mean that CFATS is going away.  Most experts believe the mandate is here to stay and the Obama administration has put funding for the program in the DHS 2011 budget.   Stay tuned and look for updates here. 

RyanLoughin is Director of Petrochemical & Energy Solutions for the Advanced Integration division of ADT- www.adtbusiness.com/petrochem. He provides security education to CFATS and MTSA-affected companies and is amember 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 ofHomeland Security.

 

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  • Ryan, I look forward to your updates on chemical security going forward. Extending CFATS is an extremely important part of the effort to secure chemical facilities across the US. We hope the Senate works quickly to pass the bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Collins, Landrieu, Pryor and Voinovich, which we feel recognizes the effort already underway to safeguard chemical facilities. Best, Jeff Jeff Sloan American Chemistry Council

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