US chemical site security plan goes international

31 July 2012 17:05  [Source: ICIS news]

BALTIMORE, Maryland (ICIS)--The five-year-old federal programme to ensure that US chemical facilities are protected from possible terrorist attacks has broadened to include foreign government and industry representatives for the first time, officials said on Tuesday.

Larry Sloan, president of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), told the sixth annual Chemical Sector Security Summit (CSSS) that foreign representatives were participating in this year’s conference, marking the first involvement of non-US chemical security interests.

Sloan told some 600 chemical industry security officials attending the summit that participation by industry officials from abroad was a testament to the growing importance and global need for chemical sector anti-terrorism security.

The first-time role of foreign officials also was hailed by Rand Beers, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) undersecretary responsible for the department’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD).

The NPPD is in charge of implementing the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) programme.

Set up in 2007 under a congressional mandate, CFATS was designed to establish security benchmarks that plant operators were to meet in order reduce if not eliminate the risk of attacks by terrorists seeking to cause massive off-site casualties by targeting a chemical plant.

Developments in that lately troubled programme typically are a major focus of the annual security summit.

SOCMA spokeswoman Christine Sanchez said there were 13 representatives from five countries attending the summit, including three representatives each from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Algeria, with one official representing Iraq.

She said the group of foreign participants includes some government officials and representatives of chemical industry trade associations in those countries.

Sanchez said the foreign representatives were invited to the chemical security summit by the US State Department as part of its Chemical Security Engagement Program (CSEP).

She said that DHS chemical security officials accompanied State Department officials on recent visits to those nations “to advance a culture of chemical security around the world”.

Beers said the new role of foreign chemical industry and government security officials was important “because we have to recognise that critical infrastructure is not just a domestic US concern”.

“The US is part of a global supply chain and our economies are all interconnected,” he said, “meaning that those involved in protecting their own countries’ critical infrastructure are important to our security as well.”

He cited energy resources and production as an example, noting that energy output and distribution keeps the global economy in motion.

“A disruption in the energy sector would affect the global economy,” he said, “so we need to encourage protection for critical infrastructure in other countries.”

Co-sponsored by DHS, SOCMA and the industry-based Chemical Sector Co-ordinating Council (CSCC), the summit runs through Wednesday.

By: Joe Kamalick
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