10 June 2002 20:42 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) soon will require 15 000 of the nation's chemical, water and waste-treatment facilities to assess their vulnerability to terrorist or other criminal attacks, CNI learned Monday.
An EPA official said the plan would require any plant that already files a Risk Management Plan (RMP) under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to undergo vulnerability assessments.
The official said the agency's principles for chemical plant security are similar to guidelines developed by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) for its member companies.
But he noted that of the 15 000 facilities required to submit RMPs, only about 1000-1500 are operated by ACC companies. "That leaves a lot of facilities at which we also want to have some assurance they are addressing vulnerabilities," the official said.
It remains unclear whether EPA will seek to implement the plan itself by issuing regulations or if congressional approval would be needed. The official said an interagency review is underway to determine whether EPA has authority under the CAA to simply adopt the measures.
Under EPA's plan, facilities would first conduct vulnerability assessments, reviewing such issues as perimeter and access control, cyber security, storage practices and the availability of inherently safer technologies.
Facilities then would document their assessments and take steps to reduce any vulnerabilities or hazards they identified.
The official said EPA is developing a process facilities would use to certify that they have taken the necessary steps. The agency also is considering the use of third-party audits, possibly by non-governmental entities such as insurance companies or by other federal agencies.
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