Processing Magazine

Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program lacks transparency

March 15, 2013

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made notable progress on implementing the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, but there is still room for improvement, according to Dow Chemical's Chief Security Officer and Corporate Director Emergency Services Timothy J. Scott.

Scott, who testified on behalf of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) before the House Subcommittee on Environment and Economy on March 14, said chemical security remains a top priority for ACC’s members and noted that ACC continues to support effective federal regulation of chemical security and that DHS has made measurable improvements in the implementation of CFATS despite early difficulties.

In particular, Scott commended DHS leadership for renewing the public/private security partnership between DHS and the regulated community. He also complimented DHS on working with ACC and its members to develop an Alternative Security Program (ASP) Guidance Document and Template to enhance the process for submitting security plans.

“The ASP initiative is an excellent example of how an effective public/private security partnership can create smart regulatory solutions that will benefit both the regulated community and DHS, while ensuring the security and safety of our infrastructure, our workers and our communities,” he said.

More transparency would help further improve the CFATS program according to Scott. Specifically, he said DHS should be more transparent about all factors related to a covered facility’s risk-based tier status.

“ACC believes that this issue is at the core of an effective security partnership. ACC strongly recommends that DHS improve the transparency of its risk-based tier determinations with the local security managers, by request, even if it has to be in a classified setting,” according to Scott.

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He also expressed concern that despite some progress on advancing personnel surety and seeking broad stakeholder input, DHS does not currently have a workable Personnel Surety Program (PSP) program in place, resulting in no security plans being completely authorized or approved.

“This [PSP] deficiency is a significant issue that must be addressed to ensure that all high-risk chemical facilities are safe, secure and fully comply with CFATS,” he said.

These reforms, along with a long-term authorization of the CFATS program, would further build on the recent progress by DHS and ultimately provide much-needed regulatory certainty according to Scott.

“Eventually we hope that Congress will provide DHS permanent statutory authority for the CFATS program, thus providing regulatory certainty and operational stability that is necessary for capital investments to be appropriately planned and budgeted,” said Scott. “These improvements will also ensure that long-term security decisions can be made without concern as to whether the regulatory landscape under the CFATS program will be altered.”