New DHS Chemical-Plant Regulations Ready For Public Review

Failure to comply with DHS performance standards could result in fines of $25,000 per day.

The 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 in the U.S.

The proposed regulations are expected to be published in the Federal Register the week of Jan. 8, 2007 as an Advanced Notice of Rulemaking and will be available for public comment until Feb.7, 2007.

Under the proposed regulations chemical facilities that fit certain profiles must complete a secure online risk assessment to help in determining their overall level of risk.

The high-risk facilities will then be required to conduct vulnerability assessments and submit site security plans that meet the DHS’ 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 to satisfy these standards will depend upon the level of risk at each facility.

The proposed regulations offer chemical facilities two opportunities to challenge the disapproval of a site security plan. 

Failure to comply with performance standards could result in civil penalties up to $25,000 a day, and egregious instances of noncompliance could result in an order to cease operations.
“Chemical industry stakeholders have been collaborating to provide adequate security over the last several years and making ongoing investments. However, managers in many industries, beyond chemicals, have been increasingly asking for justification of security budgets," commented Bob Mick of the ARC Advisory Group. "This DHS action will guarantee that the chemical industry will not have that issue and provide a structured reporting environment that may motivate improvements in other areas, such as incident reporting.”

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