InterviewUS chems ready for new security regs

15 October 2007 17:04  [Source: ICIS news]

By Brian Ford

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US chemicals industry is more tolerant towards pending government security vulnerability assessment (SVA) requirements in large part because companies have had to deal with reporting requirements by other agencies, the head of a process risk management software company said on Monday.

Kevin North, CEO of Ontario, Canada-based Dyadem, said chemical companies have dealt with the past reporting requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Osha).

Also, the industry has been expecting the SVA requirements since the terrorist attacks of 2001, he said.

“I’ve seen a pattern that the industry has become a little more numb [to additional reporting requirements] each time,” North said.

The Department of Homeland Security plans to seek information from chemicals manufacturers including SVAs, site security plans (SSP), alternative security programmes, notices of deficiencies and “other information designated as chemical-terrorism vulnerability information by the secretary” of Homeland Security.

The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) became effective on 8 June but are not yet being enforced. The standards are on hold until the White House office of management and budget completes its review of the department’s seminal list of “chemicals of interest”.

That list, formally known as Appendix A of the regulations, contains the names of more than 300 chemical substances and threshold amounts for each that will determine whether a facility that produces, uses, stores or distributes any one will fall under the department’s regulatory purview. 

The DHS estimates that owners or operators of as many as 80,000 US facilities will have to complete an online screening process to determine whether they will be judged as “high-risk” locations.

High-risk chemical facilities are those where the nature and quantity of on-site hazardous materials could cause large-scale fatalities, widespread environmental damage or severe economic dislocation if they were detonated or otherwise released into a surrounding community.

An estimated 5,000-8,000 high-risk facilities will have to complete a SVA and a draft a SSP designed to remedy their vulnerabilities. Although the department will not dictate specific security measures to site operators, it must approve all security plans and has authority to shut down any plant that fails to implement adequate antiterrorism safeguards.

Dyadem and other process risk management software firms are helping chemical companies deal with the new security regulations, North said, by offering software solutions, facilitation services, consultation and training as well as SVAs of chemical facilities.

Just as the industry has come to embrace risk safety management to deal with the possibility of accidents, it is accepting security risk management to deal with the possibility of acts of terrorism, North said.

The company plans to open a permanent office in Houston, the major petrochemical hub for the US, in December, North said.

The area’s concentration of chemical facilities makes it a possible target for terrorists, North said.

“If you want to target the financial district, target New York; if you want to target the petrochemical industry, target Houston,” he said.

Additional reporting by Joe Kamalick

By: Brian Ford
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