Legislation to extend the federal law governing security at America’s chemical facilities for three years was reported out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Me.), and Senators Mary Landrieu (D- La.), Rob Portman (R-Oh.), and Mark Pryor (D-Ar.), cosponsored the bill to extend the Department of Homeland Security program requiring high-risk chemical facilities to comply with federal security standards.
Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program, or CFATS, sets 18 risk-based performance standards that high-risk chemical facilities must meet. These security standards cover a range of vulnerabilities, such as perimeter security, access control, theft, internal sabotage, and cyber security.
This risk-based approach has made the owners and operators of chemical plants partners with the federal government in implementing a successful, collaborative security program. This landmark law has been in place for over four years and security at our nation’s chemical facilities is much stronger today as a result.
"Simply put, the program works and should be extended and I am pleased the committee agreed," said Senator Collins. "Chemical facilities are tempting targets for terrorists. The Department of Homeland Security has done a good job developing a comprehensive chemical security program. It has yielded a successful collaborative, risk-based security framework – providing a model for other security-related programs. The roles under the law are clear: the federal government sets requirements but recognizes that owners and operators of facilities are in the best position to design appropriate security measures to meet those requirements for their facilities."
"Chemical facilities understand they are a ripe target for terrorists, and this program has enabled them to address security vulnerabilities that may exist," Senator Pryor said. "This bipartisan legislation lets DHS and chemical plants continue to build on a successful program."
"Since its inception in June 2007, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program has been an effective tool for safe-guarding facilities that handle hazardous and toxic substances through smart security standards. This important legislation will improve the program by promoting collaboration with state and local authorities and providing facility operators with technical assistance, information about best practices, and enhanced opportunities for safety training and exercises," said Senator Landrieu.
"Protecting chemical facilities is integral to ensuring our homeland’s security," said Senator Portman. "Extending this law is a sensible approach to safeguarding chemical facilities against terrorist attacks, while balancing the challenges facing facility managers and nearby communities."
The bipartisan legislation mirrors the bill unanimously approved by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last summer. In short, the bill includes:
• a 3-year extension of the current CFATS program;
• the development of voluntary exercise and training programs to improve collaboration with the private sector and State and local communities under the CFATS program;
• the creation of a voluntary technical assistance program under the existing CFATS structure that would allow DHS, at the request of the owners/operators of covered chemical facilities, to provide recommendations or assistance to covered facilities to aid in compliance with the CFATS program or to reduce the risk of consequences of a terrorist attack on the covered facility; and
• the creation of a chemical facility best practices clearinghouse and private sector advisory board at DHS to aid in the implementation of CFATs and the voluntary technical assistance program.