SOCMA Responds to DHS Assessment of CFATS Implementation

January 3, 2012

2 Min Read
SOCMA Responds to DHS Assessment of CFATS Implementation

In response to a recent media report on a study by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the effectiveness of the nation’s chemical site security rules, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) reiterated its full support for the regulatory program while recognizing that administrative challenges at the agency have hampered its success.

The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) require chemical facilities that use or store chemicals, such as chemical plants, universities, and hospitals, be subjected to a rigorous and thorough security evaluation, planning, and implementation process. This process includes on-site inspections by DHS and proscribes stiff penalties for non-compliance, including shutting a facility down.

"The standards themselves are robust and we agree with Undersecretary Rand Beers that they are making the nation safer," said Bill Allmond, SOCMA’s vice president of government relations. "More than 1300 facilities have removed all chemicals of interest and more than 600 facilities have reduced their quantities of chemicals below levels requiring regulation since the regulations were finalized five years ago."

Regulated facilities are now deep in the middle of implementing this vital program in a focused, cooperative manner. However, SOCMA remains concerned about the slow pace of implementation.

"The process of getting site security plans approved has been taking longer than everyone involved, including DHS and Congress, would have liked," said Allmond. "We share that frustration and look forward to working with the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division to improve its implementation."

Allmond also expressed concern about the string of recent departures by key staff within DHS’s Infrastructure Security Compliance Division, which oversees the CFATS program.

"DHS would do well to quickly staff these open positions with qualified, seasoned staff who share the mutual philosophy of partnership," he added. "Having the right people in place will bring much-need stability to the administration of the program."

Allmond added that any changes to CFATS need to focus on improving the implementation, not the regulation.

"CFATS is a fundamentally sound security policy that needs better administration by the Department," he said. “Now that DHS has identified where they need to improve, they should be allowed to do so without delay."

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