02 April 2007 20:45 [Source: ICIS news]
Earlier on Monday, the department issued final rules to implement the antiterrorism site security law passed by Congress late last year. The law and regulations establish the first federal mandate for protecting high-risk chemical facilities from attack by terrorists bent on causing mass casualties.
The regulations require owners of facilities that produce, store or use certain quantities of some 300 hazardous chemicals to submit an initial assessment of their sites’ vulnerabilities and risks posed to adjacent populations.
The department will then select an unspecified number of high-risk facilities - those that pose the greatest danger to populations in the event of a successful attack - and establish certain security standards for operators to meet.
Plant owners may make their own decisions on how best to meet the federal security standards, and the department will not impose any specific security measures. The department can levy fines and even shut down plants that fail to meet standards.
However, in a departure from draft rules issued earlier this year, the department said its final regulations will not prevent state governments from enacting or enforcing tougher site security rules that do not conflict with the federal law. Chemical industry officials had wanted the federal rules to take precedence over state legislation.
The American Chemistry Council on Monday welcomed the final site security regulations, saying they “will drive enhanced security protections for
“For the first time, a federal agency is authorized to enforce national risk-based performance standards to ensure that chemical facilities assess security vulnerabilities and implement security plans to address them,” the council said.
“The nation is safer today,” the council said, citing the new regulations.
The rules go into force in early June.
High-volume chemical manufacturers, such as member firms of the council, were expected to welcome the new regulations, in part because major producers have already spent heavily on improving site security. They want other chemical manufacturers to implement similar measures and so level the playing field in terms of security costs and their effect on companies’ bottom lines.
Smaller manufacturers have been less enthusiastic about the prospect of mandatory provisions and related costs being imposed under federal fiat.
The full text of the 226-page final regulations is available on the department's Web site.
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