This is going to be an interesting week for Congressional hearings for members of the chemical security community. There will be two Senate hearings that directly address chemical security issues and a House hearing that should be touching on at least some chemical transportation security issues.
As I mentioned briefly in a posting on Friday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will be marking up HR 2868 at their Business Meeting on Wednesday, July 28th at 10:00 am EDT. Since there are a number of other items (not chemically related) on the agenda for that meeting I don’t expect that we will see a large number of amendments offered during the mark-up; certainly nothing like the three-day markup we saw in the House Homeland Security Committee last fall. The Senate committees typically conduct their negotiations and arguments before their hearings are held.
I would expect that Chairman Lieberman will offer an amendment in the form of a substitute at the start of the hearing. Based on past history the details of that amendment will not be made public until the Committee Report is published. If Ranking Member Collins offers a substitute amendment that will probably be the main vote on the IST provisions of the legislation, but we won’t know for sure until the Report is published.
An affirmative vote on the final version of HR 2868 does not mean that the measure will make it to the floor of the Senate. This Committee has a history of not actually submitting its Committee Reports and nothing further will happen until that report is filed.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will be holding their first hearing on S 3598, the Water Facilities Security Act, on Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 pm. The listing in the Congressional Record doesn’t actually say that S 3598 will be addressed. It just notes that the hearing will “examine protecting America’s water treatment facilities”. The witness list on the Committee web site includes Director Dougherty of the EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, the person who would be responsible for implementing S 3598 if it passes.
The public panel does not include anyone representing the management of water treatment facilities with the one corporate witness representing a company that provides hypochlorite production systems to treatment facilities. There will be a labor representative and an IST Activist on the panel. Don’t expect to hear any witness express opposition to an IST mandate at this hearing.
Surface Transportation Security
The House Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Transportation Security and
Infrastructure Protection will hold a hearing to examine TSA’s management of Surface Transportation Security Inspectors on Wednesday at 2:00 pm EDT. The disparity between air transportation security and surface transportation security will be addressed. With the Assistant IG on the witness list we can expect to see an IG report on the issue released at the hearing.
Chemical transportation security is certainly part of the issue, but the two public witnesses listed on the Committee web Site represent transit interests not freight transportation. We’ll have to wait and see how much attention is addressed to chemical security issues.
I spent 15 years in the US Army as an Infantry NCO. After getting out of the Army I started working in the chemical industry, getting my BSc Chemistry degree while working as a technician. I spent 12 years working as a process chemist in a specialty chemical company. I'm now working as a QA Manager in a specialty chemical manufacturing facility.