23 January 2008 23:41 [Source: ICIS news]
The House Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure approved the “Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2008” by a voice vote and sent it on to the full House Committee on Homeland Security where further changes to the measure may be made.
As approved by the subcommittee, the bill gives the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authority to “require the implementation of such methods to reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack” on a chemical plant, including “substitution of chemicals, changes in processes, storage or use of less of a chemical of concern, changes to safer practices” and other measures.
The “chemical of concern” reference is to the department’s list of some 300 substances that, if held at a site in certain threshold amounts, could pose a risk of injury or death to surrounding communities if the host plant were attacked by terrorists. The list was issued late last year under the existing year-old chemical facility security law.
A federal mandate for such production and process-related decisions - generally known as the use of inherently safer technology - has long been opposed by the
Scott Jensen, spokesman for the American Chemistry Council (ACC), said the IST mandate in the bill “is a concern for us”.
“We think an IST mandate will be very difficult in part because there is no straight-forward measure for any of this,” Jensen said. He said a government requirement for inherently safer technology measures as part of federal security rules could force producers to change processes and affect a site’s ability to meet consumer demand for a specific chemical product.
The inherently safer technology mandate also is a concern for member firms of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA), whose officials have been meeting with House and Senate homeland security committee members this week in an effort to forestall the issue.
Bill Allmond, SOCMA director of government relations, said the association met with Senate Homeland Security Committee members yesterday and will meet with their House counterparts on Friday.
He said the association is building a coalition of industry trade groups to address the IST issue in Congress.
Jensen said the full House committee on homeland security is expected to make changes to the bill, but a hearing date at the full committee has not yet been set.
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