US officials, industry begin security inspections

10 September 2007 21:20  [Source: ICIS news]

Security inspections beginWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US officials and chemical companies have begun implementing federally mandated antiterrorism site security regulations even though the rules have not been completed, industry officials said on Monday.


Marty Durbin, managing director for federal affairs at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), said about 50 member firms of the council have already undertaken regulatory compliance with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) while awaiting final administration approval of a key part of the department’s new chemical plant site security regulations.


Earlier this year the department issued regulations implementing a chemical site security law passed by Congress late in 2006. 


The published regulations, known as the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), lacked one final element, a list of some 350 chemicals that will trigger reporting and compliance obligations for companies that produce, use or store threshold amounts of those compounds.


The department has completed its work on the list, known as Appendix A to the regulations, but final Bush administration approval of the list is being held up because some US senators want propane eliminated from the appendix.


The senators contend that US farmers, many of whom typically have threshold volumes of propane on hand for fuel purposes, will be unreasonably burdened by rules meant to regulate security at major chemical production sites.


Until the list is given final approval, the department cannot begin formal enforcement of its chemical site antiterrorism security regulations.


Durbin said that despite continuing delay in federal approval of that key list, council member firms have invited department regulators onto production sites to begin developing enforcement procedures.


“DHS is already working closely with a pilot group of companies, with DHS inspectors visiting facilities,” Durbin said.  He said regulators are making on-site security inspections at plants that are certain to fall within the rules’ definition of a high-risk facility once the department’s final list of chemicals is approved and published.


He said the on-site inspections have been under way since late June.


“DHS inspectors are visiting these facilities, and these visits will help the department establish a baseline for enforcement,” Durbin said.

By: Joe Kamalick
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