This is another in a series of posts addressing the recent request for information (RFI) from the EO 13650 Working Group. That RFI addressed requirements in §6(a) of the Improving Chemical Safety and Security Executive Order (EO 13650) for the Working Group to “develop options for improved chemical facility safety and security that identify improvements to existing risk management practices through agency programs, private sector initiatives, Government guidance, outreach, standards, and regulations”. Earlier posts in the series include:
While EPA, OSHA and NPPD are the major players in the Working Group, two other agencies also have various roles to play in the chemical safety and security realm; the Coast Guard and the ATF. They also have areas for potential improvements identified in this RFI. In this post we will take a look at those two agencies.
The Coast Guard is responsible for chemical safety and security in and around maritime shipping; this includes some port facilities. The Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA, 46 USC Chapter 701) governs the security of port facilities. The major goal of the Coast Guard security activities revolves around the prevention of maritime transportation security incidents (TSI).
There is only one comment in the RFI about possible changes in the Coast Guard programs (pg 5):
• The Coast Guard is working with NPPD and other elements within the Department of Homeland Security to seek input on improving the safety and security of the nation’s maritime critical infrastructure.
MTSA covered port facilities are currently exempted from coverage under the DHS CFATS program. There had been an attempt at formulating a rule for those exempt facilities to at least submit a Top Screen under the CFATS program so that there would be a better understanding of what the potential terrorist chemical threat was at these facilities, but that has apparently been abandoned.
The ATF is responsible for the enforcement of federal explosives laws that deal with explosives in commerce. This includes licensing, storage and record keeping. That jurisdiction does not include precursors to explosives (such as ammonium nitrate, which is a precursor to the commercial explosive ANFO).
The Working Group has identified six areas of potential improvements that the ATF could make to promote the safety and security of chemicals related to commercial explosives. They are (pgs 5-6):
• Developing and encouraging best practices related to safety and security of precursor materials used in the explosives manufacturing and operational processes, to include ammonium nitrate;
• Examining potential applications of quantitative risk assessment tools to explosives-related industry operations;
• Continued partnering with industry to develop means to account for bulk materials and ammonium nitrate;
• Effective implementation of outreach programs to identify and report suspicious and unsafe behaviors associated with unregulated explosives and precursor chemical materials;
• Means for mitigating duplicative Federal qualification and inspection requirements; and
• Unsafe making of explosive materials by unregulated persons.
Agencies Absent from RFI
There are three other agencies that have important chemical security and safety regulatory roles that were not included in the RFI; DHS’s Transportation Security Agency (TSA), DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Department of Agriculture. TSA is responsible for regulating the secure transportation of various hazardous chemicals, while PHMSA is responsible for the safe shipment. The Department of Agriculture is responsible for regulating the use of a large number of hazardous chemicals in the agricultural setting.
There is no mention of why the chemical safety and security programs of these three agencies were not included in this RFI.
The Coast Guard should resume their project to incorporate Top Screen data submissions in the management of their port side security program under MTSA. They should also consider using the CFATS Security Vulnerability Assessment Tool to more accurately assess the chemical security hazards at such facilities.
The ATF should also consider the use of Top Screen data for identifying facilities producing or storing explosives precursor chemicals for use in their out-reach campaign.
The biggest hole in the chemical security process is the security of chemicals in transit. While establishing effective and economically sensible security measures will be difficult, an effort needs to be made to move forward in this area. Concepts that deserve to be looked at include:
• TSA needs to complete its security training regulations for bulk chemical transportation by rail;
• Tracking of all toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) bulk chemical shipments;
• Establishing automatic notification systems for accidents involving TIH bulk chemical shipments; and
• Mandating federal reporting of transport theft/diversion of chemical precursors to chemical weapons or explosives.
This is a reminder that the whole purpose of this RFI is to get public feedback on these proposed ideas. The RFI requests the public to respond to these specific proposals for areas of improvement. That response should address the following (pg 9):
• Examples of where implementation of the same or similar options has been successful;
• Information or data that would characterize the positive impacts the options might have, including additional benefits;
• Potential limitations or unintended consequences of the options described;
• Methods for implementing the options, including methods for potentially increasing benefits or reducing costs; or
• Alternatives to the options that could achieve substantially the same result.
Comments need to be submitted by March 31st, 2014. They may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (www.Regulatons.gov; Docket #OSHA-2013-0026).