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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

DHS Introduces Regulations to Secure High-Risk Chemical Facilities

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made available for public review a set of proposed regulations that will improve security at high-risk chemical facilities nationwide. The proposed regulations are expected to be published in the Federal Register as an Advanced Notice of Rulemaking and will be available for public comment until February 7, 2007.

"The consequences of an attack at a high risk chemical facility could be severe for the health and safety of the citizens in the area and for the national economy," says Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "Congress has provided the department with a critical new authority to set performance standards that are both sensible and disciplined, allowing owners and operators the flexibility to determine an appropriate mix of security measures at their facility under our supervision and subject to our approval. We’re grateful for this new authority, and we intend to implement it quickly and apply it aggressively."

The proposed regulations require that chemical facilities fitting certain profiles complete a secure online risk assessment to assist in determining their overall level of risk. High-risk facilities will then be required to conduct vulnerability assessments and submit site security plans that meet the department’s performance standards. The department will validate submissions through audits and site inspections, and will provide technical assistance to facility owners and operators as needed. Performance standards will be designed to achieve specific outcomes, such as securing the perimeter and critical targets, controlling access, deterring theft of potentially dangerous chemicals, and preventing internal sabotage. Security strategies necessary to satisfy these standards will depend upon the level of risk at each facility, according to DHS.

The proposed regulations provide chemical facilities with two quick and simple opportunities to challenge the disapproval of a site security plan. Failure to comply with performance standards may result in civil penalties up to $25,000 per day, and egregious instances of noncompliance could result in an order to cease operations, DHS says.

Written comments must be submitted on or before February 7, 2007 by:

Federal eRulemaking Portal:

IP/CNPPD/Dennis Deziel
Mail Stop 8610
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528-8610

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