US chemicals welcome new rail security rules

14 November 2008 18:05  [Source: ICIS news]

US chems welcome rail rulesWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--New measures announced by US security officials to protect rail shipments of chemicals against terrorist attack were welcomed on Friday by industry leaders, saying the tighter controls are needed for critical supplies.


American Chemistry Council (ACC) president Cal Dooley said new rail security regulations announced on Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will “build upon the significant efforts already undertaken by our member companies to protect chemical shipments and the nation”.


The some 140 member firms of the council represent 90% of US industrial chemicals productive capacity, according to ACC. 


Many of those companies’ plants are already facing increased antiterrorism security requirements under the department’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS).


The rail transit security regulations issued on Thursday by the department’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are seen as an extension of plant site antiterrorism protective measures. 


The rail rules require railroads and shippers and receivers of toxic chemical cargoes to set up real-time monitoring and reporting procedures with TSA along with strict chain-of-custody documentation to ensure that critical substances in transit cannot be used as weapons of mass destruction.


Dooley noted that the objective of the security measures is not only to prevent or deter terrorist attacks that might cause large-scale human casualties but also to prevent disruption of the US economy.


“Since the nation’s economy relies on chemicals to make the products essential to virtually every aspect of our lives, we must continue to enhance the safe and secure shipment of those materials by rail,” he said.


He said the council will continue to “be a strong advocate for federal security regulations that take a common sense approach to enhancing security without impeding the flow of these critical materials”.


The new US Congress that will convene in January next year is expected to craft a new and tougher federal statute governing chemical plant security, one that many in industry fear will include a mandate for imposition of inherently safer technology (IST) as a security measure.


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By: Joe Kamalick
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