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DHS Chemical Sector Summit focused on CFATS Program

When 600 government and chemical industry members gathered in Baltimore for the SOCMA Department of Homeland Security Chemical Sector Summit in late July, reform and Senate reauthorization of the CFATS program was a key topic of discussion.

CFATS (Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards) require high-risk chemical facilities to prepare a vulnerability assessment, develop a site security plan to address the vulnerabilities, obtain authorization of the plan from the DHS and agree to an on-site inspection by DHS security experts before gaining final approval.

Originally the CFATS program was established in 2007 following a Congressional directive to DHS to create a security program for high-risk facilities as part of its funding bill.

Since then, lawmakers have been hesitant to pass freestanding legislation and instead have passed an annual appropriations bill to fund the program.

Relying on my own experience during the 1993 bombing of the Word Trade Center, I reviewed the potential terrorism risks associated with chemical facilities.

At the time, I was the Security Director of the facility where explosive chemicals had been illegally diverted before being loaded into the now infamous yellow Ryder Truck by terrorists and parked on the 5th level garage of the World Trade Center’s North Tower to be used as a bomb. One of the terrorists was an employee of that same chemical facility.

I related the facts of the investigation that followed to the CFATS Risk-Based Performance Standard 6, Theft and Diversion. I encouraged the deployment of RBPS 6 security metrics to help prevent such events from occurring in the future.

The CFATS program also maintains a list of “chemicals of concern” that includes some 300 chemicals and substances that are toxic or hazardous. CFATS set a threshold amount for each of the chemicals on the list that a facility may hold before being subject to CFATS regulations.

Many DHS and industry experts believe the “chemicals of concern” list needs to be updated.

DHS also hopes to identify chemical sector outliers who are non-compliant because they either don’t know of the CFATS program or are actively avoiding it.

There are currently 4,100 chemical facilities that are subject to CFATS regulation according to the Government Accountability Office. They suggest there are many more who should be.

There are 18 security criteria that are used to assess the level of risk for a particular chemical facility.

The House passed the CFATS Bill, HR-4007 in early July. The Bill is now in the mark-ups stage under the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. This allows committee members to make adjustments and amendments to the Bill before a final vote of the full Senate takes place.

Passage of the Bill is expected to provide more stability to the CFATS program and allow the DHS to hire and train experts to oversee the program.

Huffmaster Protective Services uses their hands-on experience to help their clients interpret, design and implement security measures that meet the requirements of the CFATS Risk Based Performance Standards.

Contact Huffmaster Protective Services and see how they can help you comply with CFATS regulations and keep your chemical facility safe.

Mike Saad, CPP

Senior Director Consulting Services at Huffmaster Crisis Response, LLC
Michael Saad is Senior Director of Consulting Services, Huffmaster Crisis Response, LLC. He is responsible for the security consulting line of business for the company. In that capacity he manages security program evaluation, corporate policy and procedure development, federal security compliance initiatives, corporate investigations, security threat and vulnerability analysis, and business risk management.

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