18 June 2002 19:12 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--A leading US chemicals group Tuesday welcomed a Department of Justice (DoJ) 12-step analysis and risk-reduction guide designed to improve plant security.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said it will require its 180 member companies to use the DoJ methodology or a similar tool to assess site security.
The ACC official said some facilities are required to complete the assessments by year end in keeping with a new ACC security code adopted earlier this month.
"A number of our members will be relieved to know DoJ has finally released the VAM [vulnerability assessment methodology]. We will be going over the DoJ report in great detail," the ACC official said.
ACC members have been prioritising their sites into one of four tiers based on risk. Companies will then assess security using the methodologies developed either by DoJ, the Center for Chemical Process Safety, or an equivalent approach.
Once companies implement the security measures identified in the assessment, independent third parties will verify that the site security measures have been implemented.
The DoJ methodology includes a flow chart and detailed explanations for carrying out 12 steps for developing a chemical security assessment. The steps include characterising the facility, assessing threats, analysing risks, and making recommendations for reducing the risks identified.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing to require that each of the 15 000 industrial facilities that file risk management plans (RMPs) with the agency also assess their vulnerability to terrorists and take steps to reduce risks.
The principles for vulnerability assessments and subsequent fixes are being modelled after the ACC's voluntary security code. Only about 1000 of the 15 000 facilities required to submit RMPs are operated by ACC member companies.
Environmentalists say the government needs to do more to reduce chemical hazards.
Said Jeremiah Baumann of the US Public Interest Research Group: "The administration is taking a good first step, but they'll need to do more than just what the chemical industry says they're willing to do."
"A methodology from the Justice Department isn't enough to protect Americans," he said. "What we need is for the government to actually require safety improvements at chemical plants."
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