By Nicholas Sheble
The Chemical Process Industries (CPI) are part of the critical infrastructure in the U.S. and thus the Department of Homeland Security regulates them using the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS).
While CFATS is an important influence to the improvement in security, there have been challenges to the program’s administration that have led Congress to consider cutting back on the funding of the initiative.
An internal assessment of the CFATS program late in 2011 revealed some concerns about the management and implementation of the program. Therefore, a multi-year reauthorization is unlikely and money will have to dole out on a yearly basis.
Earlier this month, National Protection and Programs Directorate Under Secretary Rand Beers appeared before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy for a hearing titled “The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Program A Progress Report”
“The CFATS program has made our nation more secure and we welcome the opportunity to continue to work with Congress, all levels of government, and the private sector to further improve this vital national security program,” Beers said.
He also noted, “As you are aware, the Department’s current statutory authority to implement CFATS – Section 550 of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, as amended – currently extends through 4 October 2012.”
The President’s Budget for FY 2013 requested $74.544 million for the Infrastructure Security Compliance Program, including funds for 253 full-time positions.
The primary initiatives under Infrastructure Security Compliance are the implementation of the CFATS Program and the development and implementation of the proposed Ammonium Nitrate Security Program.
Important principles guided the development of the CFATS regulatory structure:
• Securing high-risk chemical facilities is a comprehensive undertaking that involves a national effort, including all levels of government and the private sector. Integrated and effective participation by all stakeholders — Federal, state, local, and territorial government partners as well as the private sector — is essential to securing our critical infrastructure, including high-risk chemical facilities.
• Risk-based tiering guides resource allocations. Not all facilities present the same level of risk. The greatest level of scrutiny should focus on those facilities that present the highest risk — those that, if targeted, would endanger the greatest number of lives.
• Reasonable, clear, and calibrated performance standards will lead to enhanced security. The CFATS rule establishes enforceable risk-based performance standards for the security of our nation’s high-risk chemical facilities. High-risk facilities have the flexibility to develop appropriate site-specific security measures that will effectively address risk by meeting these standards.
• Recognition of the progress many companies have already made in improving facility security leverages those advancements. Many companies made significant capital investments in security following 9/11, and even more have done so since the passage of the legislation establishing this program.
Congress envisioned and authorized CFATS in 2006. It will probably continue to receive some public money.
As a business sector, the CPI has advanced its strategic thinking to the point where CFATS or no CFATS, it knows and believes securing ones’ assets and the communities in which one operates makes good business sense.
Nicholas Sheble (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an engineering writer and technical editor in Raleigh, NC.