US chemical executives hope to avoid IST mandate

23 March 2009 21:11  [Source: ICIS news]

Chemical officials warn against ISTHOUSTON (ICIS news)--Executives with leading chemical companies on Monday warned that a US mandate for inherently safer technology (IST) could hurt the chemical industry.

Speaking at the American Chemistry Council annual ChemSecure Conference in Houston, executives from Dow Chemical, NOVA Chemicals and BASF echoed previous industry assessments that giving more control to the government could have unintended consequences.

“We need to hold the line at mandatory consideration versus some of the discussions we’ve heard about mandatory implementation,” said Tim Scott, chief security officer at Dow. “There’s a lot at stake.”

The existing federal law governing plant site security, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) expires at the end of September.

As a result, Congress must act to extend or replace the existing programme by 1 October.

“After what Congress did to get some IST language in there, they’re probably not going to let it slip off the radar due to a sunset clause,” said ACC assistant general counsel Judah Prero. “We need to understand that.”

Chemical industry officials said they worry that with additional authority the government could force companies to alter or reduce feedstock supplies, change production processes or abandon certain chemical products.

“One of the things our current president said was that a more secure chemical facility would put more people to work,” said Clyde Miller, director of corporate security for BASF. “Well this is how I’m afraid it’s going to happen.”

The panel members concurred that simply extending the current legislation would be the preferred course of action.

“Talk to your Congressional folks,” Miller said. “Make it mandatory consideration because we’re considering it now. Most of us can now say we (use IST) and show the results.”

To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

By: Ben DuBose
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