13 July 2005 17:24 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (CNI)--The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said on Wednesday that federal legislation is needed to ensure all ?xml:namespace>
Martin Durbin, ACC's managing director of security and operations, testified at a US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on chemical plant protections.?xml:namespace>
He said: "The attacks last week in
Durbin said the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has estimated that about 20% of high risk chemical facilities have not taken adequate security measures.
He said the 128 ACC members have spent more than $2bn (Euro1.65bn) since 9/11 to improve the safety and security of their products, their facilities, their supply chain and the communities in which they operate.
Durbin said ACC thinks Congress should set "risk based, reasonable, clear and equitable" security standards. "Different chemical facilities pose different risks, based on their differing vulnerabilities and consequences, and any regulatory system must reflect those differences and require security measures commensurate with those risks."
He said the standards should be performance-oriented. "Facilities need flexibility to select among appropriate security measures that will effectively address risks."
"ACC members strongly believe that federal legislation should enable DHS to give [chemical companies] credit for their substantial voluntary, at-risk expenditures … just as the US Coast Guard has done."
Durbin noted that about 240 chemical plants - including most of the largest
He said ACC thinks DHS should improve its cyber security efforts. He said the National Cyber Security Division "appears to be offering tools to solve a problem, before the strategic dialogue has taken place."
He also said DHS has been slow to roll out its Protected Critical Infrastructure Information program for voluntarily-submitted information on threats, vulnerabilities and countermeasures.
Durbin said ACC is concerned about Congress seeking chemical plant safety through requirements for "inherent safety" methods for chemical production.
"The history of 'inherently safer' approaches is full of examples of unintended consequences: chlorofluorocarbons, underground storage tanks and PCBs were all originally regarded as inherently safer, from the perspective of fire or explosion. Their possible effects on stratospheric ozone, groundwater or health, however, were not fully appreciated until later.
"There are no 'standard processes' for making chemicals, and complex process systems, especially those with a long history of safe performance, should not suddenly be changed without careful thought and consideration. To expect effective regulatory oversight in this area is unrealistic, at least without great difficulty, expense and delay."
Durbin concluded: "ACC firmly believes that judgments about inherent safety are fundamentally process safety decisions that must ultimately be left to the process safety professionals."
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