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SOCMA Renews Call for Permanent Security Standards in Senate Testimony

In testimony to a key Senate panel, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) has again urged Congress to make the current risk-based chemical facility security standards permanent, or at least reauthorize the program until 2015.

In remarks to a hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, international EHS&S manager for FUJIFILM Imaging Colorants, Stephen Poorman, encouraged lawmakers to preserve the progress made under the current regulatory program. Poorman argued that Congress can best assure the continued success of the existing program by passing S. 2996, the Continuing Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Security Act, introduced last month by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), together with Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), George Voinovich (R-OH), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

“Thanks to the bipartisan support shown by your committee, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and regulated facilities are deep in the middle of implementing this vital program in a focused, cooperative manner,” Poorman explained. “We urge you not to upset – and further delay – this important process by sending DHS and regulated facilities back to the drawing board.”

Poorman said the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Acts Standards (CFATS) is driving facilities to reduce inherent hazards, where doing so is in fact safer, does not transfer risk to some other point in the supply chain, and makes economic sense. He added that the House-approved bill, H.R. 2868, would jeopardize the progress that industry and DHS have made together under CFATS. Specifically, the bill’s requirement of mandatory implementation of so-called inherently safer technology (IST) would shift DHS’s focus from securing our industry against terrorism to conducting engineering and chemistry assessments, while potentially phasing out legitimate products. He noted that, in contrast to the bipartisan Senate bill, the House version passed without a single minority vote and in spite of expert testimony advising against mandatory IST.

Poorman also implored lawmakers to consider the economic ramifications of mandating process and product changes on small businesses. “It is a wonder why IST proponents still support such a provision when there is so much uncertainty about the concept and how DHS could apply it – and during a historic economic recession in which our nation’s unemployment rate still stands at nearly 10 percent,” he said. Poorman noted that SOCMA members have spent billions of dollars and have devoted countless man-hours to securing their facilities and operations against terrorist attacks.

“Spending money to comply with new regulations necessarily causes companies to assess how they will pay for it,” Poorman continued. “There isn’t much available capital these days for manufacturers to take on new regulations aimed at their very livelihood - especially small manufacturers.”

FUJIFILM Imaging Colorants is a member of SOCMA and Poorman serves as chair of the association’s Safety and Security Committee. Poorman also testified on SOCMA’s behalf before the House of Representatives on this issue last year.

For more information about SOCMA’s position on IST and to read Five Things About Chemical Security That Nobody Is Discussing, visit www.socma.com/ist.

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