Monday, April 7, 2008

Penalties allowed 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 Section 2106 that deals with penalties authorized for use in the enforcement of CFATA of 2008.


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

·        Alternative Security Programs under HR 5577

·        Record Keeping and Site Inspections under HR 5577

·        DHS Review of SVA’s and SSP’s under HR 5577

·        Whistleblower Provisions of HR 5577


In an earlier blog we looked at the Secretary’s responsibility to review the submitted SVA’s and SSP’s to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements of the proposed legislation. Ultimately the Secretary has the authority to shut down non-complying facility. In this blog we will look at the enforcement tools that the Secretary has between those two stages.


Civil Penalties


The Secretary is authorized to bring action in US district court to enforce the provisions of this legislation. Specifically actions may be brought against facilities that fail to comply with orders issued by the Secretary. Additionally failure to comply with the provisions of the facility’s approved site security plan can result in the Secretary bringing court action against the facility.


The courts are authorized by this legislation to require the facility to comply with the issued orders or site security plans. Additionally, they may fine the facility up to $50,000 per violation or per each day the facility fails to comply with the regulation. This is up from the $25,000 specified in the current CFATS regulations.


Unauthorized Disclosure


This section provides for the penalties for the unauthorized disclosure of the sensitive information relating to the security of covered chemical facilities {defined in Section 2108(f)}. Any officer or employee of any government agency that unlawfully discloses such information shall be imprisoned for up to one year and/or fined. Federal officers or employees will be fired or removed from office.


Government contractors and facility employee representatives are also given access to the same information and similarly prohibited from disclosing the information. There is no mention in this section of fines or imprisonment being applicable to either in the event of an unauthorized disclosure. This oversight needs to be corrected in the final version of this legislation.


Treatment of Information


This section also specifies how the sensitive information described in Section 2108 will be handled in court or administrative actions covered in this legislation. Such information will be treated as if it were classified material. This is the same as the provision found in the current CFATS regulations.

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