Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Academia Looks at the Chemical Security Rules

While the deadline for Top Screen filing has come and gone, I found an interesting journal article about the effect of the final Appendix A list on college and university labs. It was published in the Journal of Chemical Health and Safety, a journal of the American Chemical Society. Interestingly, the article is available online without charge.


Because of the vagaries of journal publication this was published too late to be of much practical use for these labs in dealing with CFATS unless the lab took advantage of the 60 day extension offered in the Final Rule Appendix A. Neal Langerman, the author and a chemical safety consultant, points out this extension but incorrectly implies that it is not available to commercial facilities.


He also points out that labs with a good handle on their chemical inventory will have little problem in completing the Top Screen. There is a wide variability in how well academic institutions do with this particular task; though the same can be said for commercial labs. Unfortunately, there is nothing stopping the facility with poor inventory control from using that inadequate data to complete a Top Screen.


Langerman looks at the EPA definition of a ‘technically qualified person’ since DHS incorporates that definition in the rule for the laboratory exclusion for counting lab chemicals for Release COI Top Screen reporting. While it is worthwhile to look at this definition (and it is written broadly enough to exclude very few, if any, labs) he uses this definition to determine that the lab supervisor (“Principal Investigator or faculty member”) instead of the EHS people will be responsible for administering the CFATS rules.

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Actually, the problem is more complex than that. The CFATS rules were clearly written with corporate facilities in mind. According to the CSAT User Registration User Guide, the Authorizer for the CSAT Registration is to be “an officer, or be designated by an officer of the Corporation.” It is not clear how that translates into academia; would that be the dean of the school, the president of the institution, or the board of trustees. I would suspect that the intention of the rule would be the board of trustees.


Langerman also uses this article for a platform to take on a New York Times editorial about the Appendix A final rule. While I missed the NY Times editorial, it sounds very similar to the Washington Post article I wrote about in my “DHS increases the number of flammable chemicals regulated under CFATS” blog. In short the big city press misread the requirements of the rule, the intent of the rule, and ignored the limitations imposed upon the department by Congress.


In any case I recommend this article to anyone involved in CFATS implementation at a university or college laboratory. I am continuing to look for article on how various industries are looking at these new regulations. If any reader knows of such an article that I have not discussed please let me know. I am looking for the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want to see how these regulations are being interpreted in the real world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

See also:

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