January 2008

Anti-terror chemical regulations have teeth … probably

In April, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published regulations known as the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, requiring high-risk chemical plants to begin implementing tighter controls on security and material handling. These regulations were to begin in June of this year with chemical plant owners possessing any of a long list of chemicals on-site completing a very comprehensive report called the Top-Screen. 

Industrial Info Resources reported this paper details many precise details related to the plant site, including operating and storage capacities, feedstock capacities, toxic release data, plus many intimate plant site details. 

The scuttlebutt is the report takes 30 or so hours to complete. 

The DHS recently released a revised and updated a document called Appendix A amending and finalizing the specific chemicals of interest to the DHS. 

For those plants required to complete the Top-Screen report, the DHS requires further reporting, including a security-vulnerability assessment and a site security plan. 

The DHS has sole discretion to determine each plant's vulnerability and the required process or operational changes based on the reporting it receives. The amount of time, labor, and expense required for those plants meeting the reporting criteria is still uncertain.  

There are the immediate costs of labor to review and compile the data but also expenses related to legal advice and review. The ultimate outcome will likely mean increased spending for the transportation and handling logistics, plus security of certain chemicals as outlined by the DHS. 

Based on the list of chemicals established by the DHS as those of interest, a great majority of the more than 3,400 operational chemical plants in the U.S. will have to review and evaluate how they fit into the DHS requirements. 

Every petroleum refiner and any plant in the country including pulp & paper mills and many more that handle or consume certain chemicals will all be subject to this very detailed reporting and evaluation.  

Nicholas Sheble (nsheble@isa.org) writes and edits Government News.