Stakeholders weigh in on chemical facility security bill

Washington – Chemical industry stakeholders told Congress a security program for “high-risk” facilities should continue, but could not agree on whether changes to the program should be made.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Environment and the Economy Subcommittee convened a hearing March 31 on a bill (H.R. 908) that would extend the Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program for seven years. The program monitors more than 4,000 high-risk chemical facilities, and requires them to develop and implement security plans.

The idea behind the bill has support from both the chemical industry and labor representatives. However, James Frederick, who represents the United Steelworkers, asked (.pdf file) for changes to the bill that would allow DHS to require specific security measures. The department currently is prohibited from doing so.

The Obama administration supports DHS having the ability to require certain facilities to implement specific methods to enhance security, according to testimony (.pdf file) from Rand Beers, under secretary for DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate.

Speaking on behalf of the Arlington, VA-based National Association of Chemical Distributors, Andrew Skipp said (.pdf file) no changes should be made to the program, as they would “create uncertainty and frustrate the important progress” made to date.

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