Monday, August 18, 2008

DHS FAQ Page Update 8-15-08

Well this is another week with a large number of FAQ page updates and reviews. The 33 questions were in ten categories. The list below shows the categories and the number of questions listed in each.


  • Additional Resources (1)
  • Appendix A (3)
  • CFATS Regulation (14)
  • Facility Information (3)
  • Registration Exemptions and Inclusions (2)
  • Top-Screen Navigation and Troubleshooting (1)
  • User Registration Process (1)
  • User Roles (2)
  • Username/Passwords (1)
  • Web Portal Troubleshooting (5)

Again, I am not going to attempt to review each question/answer. For the vast majority there is no need since they are simple rehashing/reviews of previous answers. I will certainly take a look at new information and interesting replies.


Facility Owner-Operator Questions


  • 1376: Client has questions about 1.2-78 in Top Screen. He wants clarification of the owner/operator ramifications. Client is a 3rdparty logistics company who runs a company for a 2nd party client that leases the building from an owner. What if client cannot obtain owner information for facility? Who do they list in this question block?

I think that I have finally found an instance where the Help Desk gave an inappropriate answer to a question. In this case their answer can be summed up by quoting the last sentence in the answer “The person submitting the Top Screen should still be able to obtain any information needed to answer questions about the owner from the owner or operator of the facility, but in any event the owner/operator and submitter should work together to complete the Top Screen.”


From what I read in the question the building owner has essentially nothing to do with the Top Screen for this facility. The person that should be involved in the Top Screen is the operator of the facility (the ‘2nd party client’). They are the ones that ‘own’ the chemical facility operated within this building. They should probably ‘authorize’ someone from the logistics company to submit the Top Screen.


Truck and Train Facilities and CFATS


  • 1178: Are truck terminals and railroad facilities subject to the CFATS regulation?

DHS is taking a hands-off approach to both truck terminals and rail facilities for a number of political and practical reasons. Congress has sent conflicting signals to DHS on these two by failing to resolve the conflicting federal jurisdiction requirements. Practically speaking it would be difficult to bring transportation companies under the current Top-Screen/SVA umbrella due to the transitory nature of their on-hand chemical inventories.


The answer did leave the questioner with the same caveat seen in earlier rail regulation questions on this page; “As with railroad facilities, DHS may, in the future re-evaluate the coverage of trucking terminals. DHS would do so by issuing a rulemaking considering the matter.”


Background Checks for First Responders


  • 1368: Are background checks required for fire department personnel (firefighters and fire protection engineers)? If so, would the background check used for initial employment be acceptable?

DHS gave a very short answer to this question; “6 CFR Part 27 does not require that fire department personnel undergo background checks”. The answer might have been more useful if it included some additional information.


First, 6 CFR Part 27 does not require background checks; DHS is prohibited from specifying any security measure (the Section 550 authorization states that: “the Secretary may not disapprove a site security plan submitted under this section based on the presence or absence of a particular security measure”).


Second, one of the risk-based performance-measures that will have to be addressed in the site security plan (SSP) for the high-risk chemical facility will be a personnel surety program. One portion of that would be some sort of background check for personnel with ‘unaccompanied access to restricted portions of the facility’. Facility fire department personnel might be covered under that provision but personnel from municipal fire departments or volunteer fire departments (VFD) would not.


Finally, ‘authorized users’ of chemical-terrorism vulnerability information (CVI) may be given a ‘background’ check against terror watch lists by DHS during the training/vetting process. This process is handled by DHS through their on-line training site, so that ‘background check’ is essentially transparent to the facility or individual unless there is a problem.


It is not clear from the CVI Procedures Manual if government employees below state level (including fire fighters) will have to undergo that training and vetting process to be brought into the emergency planning process needed to support the SSP. Completely unaddressed is the issue of VFD personnel who are not government employees.


Requests for Extensions


  • 1380: How do I request an extension of the Top-Screen filing deadline?

The new information here is the addition of an address that can be used by shipper/mailers other than the United States Postal Service. UPS® or FedEx® are not supposed to be able to deliver to anything but a street address. That address is:


C/O Dennis Deziel
Chemical Security Compliance Division
Office for Infrastructure Protection
Mail stop #8100
U. S. Department of Homeland Security
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />245 Murray Lane, SW, Building 410
Washington, DC 20528

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