DHS Modifying How if Classifies Chemical Facilities under CFATS Program
August 2, 2016 •
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is changing the way in which it classifies chemical facilities under its Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program. The proposed modifications of the CFATS program were published in the Federal Register July 20 and simultaneously announced at the agency’s 2016 Chemical Sector Security Summit, an event that gathers DHS and sponsoring chemical industry trade associations (including ACA) to discuss plant security issues. The full proposal can be found here.
The proposal indicates that DHS will implement a revised CSAT (Chemical Security Assessment Tool) Top-Screen, along with a revised CSAT Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) application, and a revised CSAT Site Security Plan (SSP) application, which DHS is describing as “CSAT 2.0.” According to DHS, these changes could result in companies spending 90 percent less time using DHS’ Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) and 70 percent less time operating the Site Security Plan (SSP) application. DHS expects to begin collecting information using CSAT 2.0 from chemical facilities in the near future using a phased approach.
Under the 2006 law establishing the CFATS program, chemical facilities possessing more than a threshold amount of specific explosive, toxic, or other “chemicals of interest” have been required to complete a “top screen” notifying DHS that they possess such chemicals on site. Once a facility submits its top-screen, DHS can direct the facility to submit an SVA, and based on that document, then assign the facility to one of four tiers based on the potential security threat on site, an action which triggers a requirement to submit an SSP (or an Alternative Security Plan, or ASP) to DHS for authorization and approval.
This latest change responds to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published in July 2015, which stated that DHS “used unverified and self-reported data” in determining what risk a plant posed. According to DHS, these newly-announced changes will aid the agency to “incorporate the relevant elements of risk in determining the risk of terrorism associated with a covered chemical facility.” DHS is establishing a three-step process to transition to an updated system for completing top-screens by Oct. 1.
Once DHS completes the transition to CSAT 2.0, the department will begin individually notifying chemical facilities of interest (to include facilities previously determined not to be high-risk) to submit a Top-Screen using the revised CSAT Top-Screen application. DHS will then send letters of notification to affected facilities in phases over the course of several months.
ACA’s members own and operate paint, coatings, resin, and chemical manufacturing facilities that are potentially subject to the CFATS provisions, and many ACA members have previously submitted top screens identifying chemicals of interest and have been assigned preliminary or final tiers by the department. As a result, a number of ACA member companies have become subject to the CFATS Risk-Based Performance Standards.
At the Chemical Security Summit, DHS’ David Wulf, director of infrastructure security compliance, said that the CFATS program has approved a backlog of SSPs, and that the agency will pursue multiyear or permanent authorization of the CFATS program in early 2017.
He also said DHS will revise the CFATS regulations finalized in 2007 in order to streamline and simplify required processes, and will issue notices on proposed updates this Fall, after which it will host a series of public listening sessions on proposed changes. Possible changes include modifying the process through which chemical facilities are reviewed, adjusting which chemicals subject a facility to the program’s oversight, and allowing facilities to file petitions declaring that the chemicals they store pose no risk
ACA has organized a Chemicals Security Committee that provides CFATS and security information to interested members. ACA is also a member of the DHS Chemical Sector Coordinating Council, which provides industry views to DHS on CFATS and other chemical security issues, and which sponsors the Chemical Sector Security Summit.
Contact ACA’s Allen Irish for more information.