Monday, December 31, 2007

Top Screen User’s Guide: Theft/Diversion COI

There is little new information in the CSAT Top-Screen User Manual about the theft Diversion chemicals of interest that I haven’t covered in my earlier blog (Top Screen Questions: Theft/Diversion Chemicals of Interest). Neither does the User’s Guide clear up any of the questions I raised earlier.


Each of the three sections of the Theft/Diversion COI portion of the Top Screen (EXP/IEDP, WME, and CW/CWP) the User’s Guide specifically states (page 41): “…the facility shall only include theft-EXP/IEDP COI in a transportation packaging….” Then the EXP/IEDP and CW/CWP sections require checking off a block in there is material on site in Bulk Storage.


Since the User’s Guide defines bulk storage as (page 42) “a package or container from which the COI could be safely transferred into a portable package or container”, it makes some sense to include this block for CW/CWP chemicals since they were not covered in the Release COI potion of the Top Screen. It still doesn’t make any sense for the EXP/IEDP COI section since most of these would have been covered in the Release section for those chemicals. This is especially true since the WME section of the Theft/Diversion COI does not include a Bulk Storage block, and these chemicals were listed under the Release Toxic COI where a bulk storage quantity would have been reported. I suppose that internal consistency is not required.


The User’s Guide does not provide any new information on the reason for not reporting the quantity of the Theft/Diversion COI on site. While most of the EXP/IEDP and WME COI did have a quantity reported in the Release portion of the Top Screen, none of the CW/CWP COI chemicals were included in the Release portion of the Top Screen. Furthermore, there is a wide disparity between the STQ in the Release and Theft/Diversion portions of the Top Screen. This disparity ranges between1,000/45 lbs and 10,000/15 lbs.


Add to this the fact that there are at least two chemicals (Nitric Acid and Phospine) that have a lower minimum concentration for Theft/Diversion than for release. This means that it would be possible to have more than an STQ amount for Release at a concentration that is reportable for Theft/Diversion but not reportable for Release. Nitric Acid is the worst case. With an 80% minimum concentration for release and a 68% concentration for Theft/Diversion DHS would have no way of knowing how much Theft/Diversion Nitric Acid was on site from Top Screen data.


The only thing that one can reasonably assume is that DHS is either going to give all sites with just Theft/Diversion COI a pass on being declared a High-Risk facility or all Theft/Diversion sites will be declared High-Risk sites. Substantial arguments could be made against either procedure. Of course, there is nothing stopping DHS from declaring these facilities not High-Risk on this pass and then coming back at a not too distant later date and sending letters to these facilities to re-do their Top Screen with a new format requiring reporting of amounts on site.


With less than three weeks to go for facilities to complete their Top Screens, it is probably too much to expect further clarification from DHS on these types of questions. In fact, DHS will certainly not tell us how they will decide what Theft/Diversion facilities will be declared High-Risk, they made that clear last December when they released the initial draft regulation.

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