Friday, December 7, 2007

House to hold CFATS Hearing

The House Homeland Security Committee announced that it would be holding a hearing on December 12th to review CFATS implementation. The last time that this committee addressed CFATS was in July of this year. Col. Bob Stephan, Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection has been invited to testify. Secretary Stephan is responsible for the implementation of CFATS in DHS.

Additional invitees include two people that can be expected to be less than satisfied with the way DHS is proceeding in securing the chemical industry. They are Mr. Gerald C. Setley, Vice President, Region 3 Director, ICWUC/UFCW, and Mr. Gary Sondermeyer, Director of Operations, NJ Department of Environmental Protection. Unions have been opposed to the CVI rules and the fact that they feel they are being left out of the security planning process at chemical facilities. The NJ DEP is concerned that the Federal rules might supplant New Jersey’s efforts to secure the chemical facilities within its borders and wants the Federal Government to mandate replacement of hazardous chemicals where possible.

Three other invitees round out the people that will be testifying and are to be expected to be more supportive of the current DHS efforts. They are Mr. Clyde Miller, Director, Corporate Security, BASF Corporation; Dr. M. Sam Mannan, PE, CSP, Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center; and Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University System.

Generally speaking, Chairman Thompson has been less than satisfied with the performance of DHS in general and with the progress DHS has made on the Chemical Security issues. I expect that there will questions about the lack of speed with which DHS published the revised Appendix A to CFATS and the resulting delays in getting SVA’s and SSP’s done on the great majority of facilities covered under CFATS. There will also be questions about the perception that most of the changes made to STQs were to the benefit of industry.

The tone of this hearing may provide some indications about the direction of chemical security legislation next year. There are a number of politicians that are still trying to get a more comprehensive chemical plant security bill through congress and this is the key committee in the House of Representatives for action on that type of bill.

No comments:

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */