Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Alternative Security Programs under HR 5577

This is part of a continuing series taking a detailed look at the provisions of the new Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Act of 2008 recently introduced in Congress (HR 5577IH). Today’s entry looks at the part of Section 2103 dealing with Alternative Security Programs, Section 2103(e).


Previous blogs in this series include:


·        CFATA of 2008 Introduced as HR. 5577

·        Personnel Background Checks and HR 5577

·        Ranking of Chemical Facilities by HR 5577

·        General SVA and SSP Requirements under HR 5577

·        Minimum SVA Requirements under HR 5577

·        Minimum SSP Requirements under HR 5577

·        Risk Based Performance Standards under HR 5577


Section 27.235 of the current CFATS regulations provides for the use of “Alternate Security Plans (ASP). Tier 4 (the lowest ‘high-risk’ rating) can use an ASP in lieu of an Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA). Tiers 1, 2, and 3 can use an ASP in lieu of a Site Security Plan (SSP). The ASP must meet all of the requirements for SVA’s or SSP’s.


One of the reasons that the current rule allows an ASP only for Tier 4 SVA’s is that DHS uses data from the SVA to make a final determination about the risk ranking of high-risk chemical facilities. In order to ensure that the highest risk facilities are evaluated promptly the data from the SVA feeds into an automated review program within theChemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT). There is nothing in the new regulation that requires that that be changed.


Use of Alternative Security Programs


This regulation provides for a wider range of alternative security programs. It allows any facility to request permission from the Secretary to use an alternative security program for either SVA’s or SSP’s. Additionally, it allows the Secretary to authorize the use of alternative security programs without their being requested. As long as the program meets the requirements of Section 2103 and provides “for an equivalent level of security”, the Secretary can approve the alternative program.


An interesting provision of this legislation is that it allows the Secretary to authorize a broad class or category of facilities to use an alternative security program. This would allow, for example, the Secretary to approve all chlorine manufacturing or distribution facilities to use a program developed by the Chlorine Council.


Partial Recognition


CFATA of 2008 also allows for the Secretary to recognize that an alternative security program my not meet all of the requirements of Section 2103, but still approve the alternative. That approval would identify the additional information that the facility would have to provide to meet the requirements of the legislation.


Review Required


One of the complaints heard about alternative security programs is that they are nothing more than a way to allow industry to avoid implementing serious security procedures. This section specifically states that nothing in this section absolves the Secretary from the requirement to review each individual SVA and SSP to insure that all of the requirements of this legislation are met.

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