US to ramp up security inspections at chemical sites

19 August 2010 17:11  [Source: ICIS news]

Chem site security inspections to riseAUSTIN (ICIS)--US officials plan to increase their preliminary inspections of chemical facilities that fall under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) regulations, the director of a government agency said on Thursday.

Since the preliminary inspection programme started in February, officials have reviewed more than 80 facilities, said Dennis Deziel, acting director of the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Deziel spoke at the OPSEM2010 conference, held by the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) in Austin, Texas.

Beginning in August, officials plan to review 30-40 facilities/month, Deziel said.

“What we’ve seen to date, many of the site-security plans need work,” Deziel said. “In a perfect world, you submit a plan, we would review it, we would make a grade, and it would be approved.

“But a lot of the detail hasn’t been what we would expect and hope for,” he added. “That said, we realise that the site-security plan tool is not perfect, and there hasn’t been a lot of guidance given to facilities.”

CFATS regulations cover about 5,000 chemical facilities, and the 2010 version is largely expected to be rolled over to 2011.

The site-security plans are submitted by chemical companies to the DHS as part of the risk-assessment process.

“Rather than get into the back and forth process of repeatedly submitting a plan and rejecting it, we want to work more closely with the facilities,” Deziel said.

“It’s almost like a real inspection,” he added. “We’re there for up to a week. We walk through their draft site-security plan, get a sense of what is at the site, what they said in their plan, and making sure they add the detail they need to.”

Thus far in 2010, more than 3,500 site-security plans have been submitted, he said.

“We’ve found [the preliminary inspections] are a pretty critical piece,” Deziel said. “People are now starting to understand exactly what the expectations are, which helps us get quality site-security plans.”

The NACD conference lasts through Friday.

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