Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards


by Steve Case

Case, Steven
scase@mcgrathnorth.com
(402) 341-3070

Overview

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has worked closely with the chemical industry, as well as state and local authorities, on strengthening security at chemical facilities throughout the country. While many chemical facilities have already initiated voluntary security programs and made significant investments to improve the security, DHS believes that gaps remain. As a result, DHS issued the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) regulation on April 9, 2007. The CFATS regulation imposes comprehensive federal security requirements for high-risk chemical facilities.

Appendix A lists the chemicals that are covered by the CFATS regulation. Appendix A was published by DHS, in the Federal Register, on November 20, 2007.

“The publication of Appendix A is a critical piece of the federal effort to increase security at high-risk facilities, making is less likely that terrorists can use dangerous chemicals in attacks,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “The chemical security Interim Final Rule defined how the Department will implement this substantial new authority given by Congress. With the release of Appendix A, we continue the process of minimizing a significant threat to better insure the security of American citizens.”

Covered Facilities

Any facility that possesses a chemical interest at or above a Screening Threshold Quantity (STQ) is covered by the CFATS regulation. Chemicals of interest, and their corresponding STQs, are listed by DHS in Appendix A.

Chemicals

To determine the type and quantity of chemicals that would be covered by the regulation, DHS examined 3 security issues:
· Release: Quantities of toxic, flammable, or explosive chemicals that have the potential to create significant adverse consequences for human life or health if intentionally released or detonated.
· Theft or Diversion: Chemicals that have the potential, if stolen or diverted, to be used as weapons or easily converted into weapons, in order to create significant adverse consequences for human life or health.
· Sabotage or Contamination: Chemicals that, if mixed with other readily available materials, have the potential to create significant adverse consequences for human health or life.
Appendix A lists approximately 300 chemicals of interest. The list includes, industrial chemicals such as chlorine, propane, and anhydrous ammonia, as well as various specialty chemicals. Appendix A lists the corresponding STQ for each chemical of interest. In addition, Appendix A lists the security issue posed by each chemical of interest.

Requirements

A facility that possesses, or later comes into possession, of a chemical of interest at or above the specified STQ, must complete an online consequence assessment tool, known as Top-Screen. A facility must do so within 60 calendar days of when Appendix A was published (i.e. publication was on November 20, 2007) or within 60 calendar days of coming into possession of the listed chemical at or above the listed STQ. The Top-Screen is an online questionnaire that owners and operators complete to provide DHS with a basic understanding of the facility’s potential level of risk. After the online questionnaire is completed, DHS will be able to preliminarily determine whether the facility represents a high-level of security risk.

Once a facility completes the Top-Screen process, DHS will notify it within 30 days whether the facility needs further work to protect against potential terrorism threats. Facilities with little or no risk will be notified by DHS that “no further action” on their part is  necessary. For higher-risk facilities, DHS will require a vulnerability assessment to be conducted, and a site-security plan to be implemented.

Further Information

The CFATS regulation, and Appendix A, can be found at DHS’s website at www.dhs.gov/chemicalsecurity.

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