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SOCMA Responds to Secure Chemical Facilities Act, Objects to Product Substitution Mandate

The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) has expressed strong concern over legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate, mandating that chemical facilities switch to so-called safer chemicals or processes in a misguided attempt to safeguard such critical infrastructure from a terrorist incident.

The controversial legislation, known as the Secure Chemical Facilities Act, was introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) just days after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano praised the Department’s existing standards now being implemented by chemical facilities through the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). Speaking at the Chemical Sector Security Summit on July 7, Napolitano underscored the importance of the current program's common-sense performance standards to help protect individual facilities against threats without compromising their unique operational characteristics or efficiency.
 
“Senator Lautenberg’s bill runs counter to the Secretary’s emphasis on a balanced approach to the existing CFATS program,” said SOCMA president and CEO Lawrence D. Sloan. “SOCMA appreciates the bill’s attention to the impact of its controversial provision, better known as inherently safer technology (IST), on small chemical facilities. However, IST is obviously not a common-sense mandate.

“This legislation follows the same partisan approach as the House to alter a comprehensive chemical security standard, now being successfully implemented to protect American workers and communities in which chemical facilities operate,” Sloan continued.”
 
“Senator Lautenberg is casting aside bipartisan efforts already put in place by fellow Democratic colleagues to ensure that the existing security standards, set to expire soon, continue to protect chemical facilities from terrorist attack,” added Bill Allmond, SOCMA’s vice president of government relations. “While intending to protect chemical facilities against attack, this bill takes aim at the manner in which the U.S. manufactures chemicals, which has the potential to alter common goods that Americans rely on every day.”

SOCMA said the legislation is majorly flawed because it mandates implementation of a process safety concept—not a security measure—a clear definition of which cannot be agreed upon by experts and which cannot be measured. Academia and industry experts alike have repeatedly testified against mandating IST, yet this bill ignores those warnings.

The best path forward is supporting the Senate’s bipartisan bill, S. 2996, to extend the existing comprehensive chemical security standards.

For more information about SOCMA’s position on ensuring the future of chemical facility security and reasons why IST is bad security policy, visit www.socma.com/ist.
 
SOCMA is the only U.S.-based trade association serving the batch, custom, and specialty chemical industry. Since 1921, it has represented a diverse membership of small, medium, and large chemical companies, making it the leading authority on this sector. SOCMA has a global membership of nearly 300 companies. In the U.S., members employ more than 100,000 workers across the country and produce 50,000 products valued at $60 billion annually. For more information on its services and products, visit www.socma.com.

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