How the new Department of Homeland Security Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) will change the way we look at Chemicals

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Courtesy of M3V Data Management

Environmental managers, consultants and attorneys typically expect to receive environmental regulations from the EPA or OSHA.  Here, however, is an atypical rule:  the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards from the Department of Homeland Security. 

In the light of today’s increased vigilance, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now also imposing comprehensive federal security regulations for what are considered to be “high-risk” chemical facilities that manufacture, use, store, or distribute certain chemicals.  However, many of the substances in the list of Chemicals of Interest (COI) were not provided with a minimum threshold at which reporting would be required.  This means that a large number of facilities manufacturing, using, storing or distributing any quantity of these substances will be subject to the new rule, even if they are not normally considered to be a “high risk” facility under other environmental regulations such as EPA’s “Risk Management Plan Rule” or OSHA’s “Process Safety Management Rule”.  Appendix A of the CFATS containing the potential list of COI was released earlier this year.  On November 20, 2007, DHS published the final version of Appendix A in the Federal Register.

With this formal publication, all provisions of the rule are now in effect.  If a COI is present at a facility, that facility is required to comply with this new regulation.  To comply, a facility must complete and submit what is called a “Top-Screen” assessment.  The deadline in the CFATS final rule for submission of a Top Screen assessment is 60 calendar days from the date of publication of Appendix A in the Federal Register.  This means that for many facilities, there is a lot of work to be done between now and January 20, 2008.

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