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Chemical Facility Authorization Inspection Insight

June 17, 2014

A webinar hosted by the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) gave participants the opportunity to hear directly from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about how to best prepare for a chemical facility Authorization Inspection.  

In his presentation, the operations director for the DHS Infrastructure Security Compliance Div. highlighted what facilities could expect from the DHS inspectors, including the purpose and scope of the visit, expected duration and schedule of the inspection, and required facility personnel and documents that should be available during the inspection.

A Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Authorization Inspection is conducted at covered facilities to verify and validate that the content listed in the facility’s authorized Site Security Plan or Alternative Security Program is accurate and complete and that existing and planned equipment, processes and procedures are appropriate and sufficient to meet the established Risk-Based Performance Standards requirements.

“We appreciate all that DHS has done to keep the doors of communication open between government and industry,” said Bill Allmond, SOCMA vice president, government and public relations. “We expressed, on behalf of our members, a need for a mechanism to hold DHS Inspectors accountable while on-site, and the agency has been very responsive. The result of this active dialogue between the agency and stakeholders like SOCMA is a meaningful webinar like the one we held today and the upcoming release of a document that helps explain what companies can expect during Authorization Inspections.”

“I’m very thankful to all in the stakeholder community who continue to support the CFATS program,” said David Wulf, director of ISCD. “Chemical security is a shared responsibility, and this new resource is an example of how industry feedback plays a valuable role as we continue to mature the program and build upon our shared progress in fostering the security of America’s highest-risk chemical infrastructure.”

SOCMA members, like Hampford Research, that have already undergone Authorization Inspections, expressed appreciation for DHS’ timely response to company concerns. In congressional testimony back in February, Kate Donahue, president of Hampford Research, thanked DHS director David Wulf for his work to improve Authorization Inspections, specifically for his quick response in developing a resource tool for facilities called “What to Expect from the Inspectors.”

“While it will come too late for Hampford Research, we expect that the tool will be very helpful to other facilities like ours,” Donahue said in her testimony. “This is a great example of chemical companies wanting to do the right thing, and DHS working well with them for compliance. We are meeting mutual goals.”

The webinar comes roughly a month before the annual Chemical Sector Security Summit, which is co-hosted by SOCMA and DHS, and will be held in Baltimore.