On Aug.19, 2014, DHS issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) intended to update its Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program and help DHS identify ways to improve the manner in which it administers CFATS. This ANPRM specifically requested comment on such things as the information submission processes (i.e., the Top-Screen, SVA, and SSP submissions) and their associated schedules, the ways in which facilities may claim a statutorily exemption, and whether deletions, additions or modification to the list of exempt facilities should be considered. The ANPRM also addresses the use of Alternative Security Programs (ASPs) in lieu of SVAs (in particular, the current limitation on the use of ASPs in lieu of SSPs by Tier 4 facilities), as well as the scope, tier applicability and processes for submitting and reviewing SSPs and ASPs.
CFATS, which was first authorized under the 2007 DHS Appropriations Act, requires facilities with threshold quantities of particular “chemicals of concern” to complete a “top screen” notifying DHS that they possess such chemicals on site. Once notified, DHS can direct the facility to submit a Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) and then might assign the facility to one of four tiers based on the potential security threat on site, which triggers a requirement to submit an SSP to DHS for authorization and approval.
Since ACA’s members own and operate paint, coatings, resin, and chemical manufacturing facilities that are potentially subject to the CFATS provisions, and under CFATS’ statutory authority, many ACA members have 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.
On Dec. 18, 2014, the President signed into law the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014 (“the CFATS Act of 2014”), which recodifies and reauthorizes the CFATS program for four years. This legislation continues the CFATS program, while adding new provisions and maintaining most of the existing program structure. It also established an expedited approval program, which may allow chemical facilities in Tiers 3 and 4 to move to an approved site security plan more quickly.
ACA has been active in CFATS since its inception, In addition to filing numerous comments on proposed regulations and testifying before Congressional committees with oversight over the program, ACA is a long-standing member of the Chemical Sector Coordinating Council, which acts as the primary liaison between the chemical sector and federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), concerning chemical facility security and emergency preparedness issues. ACA has also been a long-standing co-sponsor of the annual Chemical Security Summit, which is a free event at which regulated facilities can obtain program insight and understanding in order to facilitate their compliance with program requirements.