Chems err in viewing site-security plans as surveys - US inspectors

19 August 2010 17:35  [Source: ICIS news]

AUSTIN (ICIS)--US chemical companies are erring in their submissions of site-security plans (SSP) by treating them as surveys rather than plans, chemical compliance inspectors with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Thursday.

“At 99% of the places I’ve visited or talked with, I’ll ask whether people think SSP is a survey or a plan,” said inspector Shawn Perceful. “Everyone believes it’s a survey, because it’s structured as a questionnaire.

“But it is most definitely a plan,” he continued. “It is a strategic level plan so that an individual in Washington, DC, can understand it and your facility. When you look at it that way, you realise the importance of details.”

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

The site-security plans are used as part of a risk-assessment programme conducted under the US Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorrism Standards (CFATS), which are expected to be rolled into 2011. About 5,000 chemical facilities in the US fall under CFATS regulations. Inspectors classify facilities into various risk tiers, based on which additional safety measures can be required.

Perceful said the biggest problems plaguing chemical companies in submitting plans are a lack of details and a failure to fully read items such as the risk-based performance standards (RBPS).

“It’s all about details, details, details,” he said. “The [officials] are sitting in an office in DC. They can only do so much. The more information you provide, the more effective it will be.”

Perceful and fellow chemical inspector Melchor Medrano suggested companies upload more overhead imagery to better help federal officials understand site processes.

A DHS director said earlier on Thursday that the department would increase its preliminary on-site inspections of chemical facilities, in hopes of giving more specific guidance.

The NACD conference lasts through Friday.

To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

By: Ben DuBose
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