In advance of this morning’s hearing on S. 2996, The National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) sent a letter to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to express its support for S. 2996, the Continuing Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Security Act. S. 2996 would extend the authority of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) until October 4, 2015.
In the letter, NACD President Christopher Jahn wrote:
“S. 2996 is a reasonable chemical security bill that would allow the CFATS program to be implemented and evaluated before making changes to it. CFATS is a landmark new security regulation that has been in effect for less than three years. DHS has done a commendable job with limited resources in writing the regulations and setting up the internal infrastructure to be able to implement and enforce the new standards. Chemical facilities have already invested substantial resources into conducting security vulnerability assessments and developing site security plans through CFATS. Because of these efforts, real security measures are being implemented at facilities around the nation.
NACD believes that the approach taken under S. 2996 will enhance the security of chemical facilities much more efficiently and effectively than legislation such as H.R. 2868, the House-passed chemical security bill that includes inherently safer technology (IST) and other non-security related mandates.
NACD strongly opposes mandatory IST consideration and implementation. The act of conducting IST assessments would be extremely costly for chemical distributors. These assessments will require expertise with IST methods, the likelihood of these methods to reduce risk, and their costs. The majority of NACD members are small businesses that do not have teams of chemical and process safety engineers on staff who would be able to conduct the IST assessments. These companies would be forced to hire consultants, who at rates of hundreds of dollar per hour, would easily drive the costs of the assessments into tens of thousands of dollars per facility. Particularly in these tough economic times, this could be the final straw to put some companies out of business, which would result in further job losses.
The CFATS program already has a built-in incentive for facilities to use the safest methods and processes possible in order to be assigned to a lower risk tier or to completely tier out of the regulation. S. 2996 recognizes this and provides time for the real security measures in CFATS to be implemented and evaluated.
For all of these reasons, NACD strongly urges the Committee to support and approve S. 2996 and to refrain from adopting legislation that would impose IST mandates on facilities.”