Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chemical Inventories and CVI

One of the problems that high-risk chemical facilities had with the original CVI Procedure Manual was trying to determine which documents were actually CVI. That manual provided a list of documents that were always CVI {listed in 6 CFR §27.400(b)}, but the question arose about the information that was used to prepare those listed documents. When was that information CVI? The document that most often came into question was the facility chemical inventory.


Pre-existing Records


The new CVI Procedures Manual addresses this issue in section 5.2, Information Not Considered CVI (page 8). This section notes that “pre-existing records that a facility developed for its own business purposes prior to DHS determining the facility to be high-risk are not CVI”. Chemical inventories certainly meet this definition; inventory control certainly serves a business purpose completely separate from chemical facility security.


The status of most records that support listed documents change once a facility is designated a high-risk facility by DHS. The new manual goes on to say that “any such records that a facility updates or creates after DHS determines the facility to be high-risk are subject to the CVI requirements”. How does this affect inventories?


Inventory as a Special Case


Section 5.2 specifically addresses the issue of inventory control documents:


  • “If a facility possess an inventory control document indicating the possession of certain quantities of chemical that is also a chemical of interest under CFATS, that inventory control document and the information in it would not itselfbe considered CVI, even if the information in the inventory control document is later incorporated in a document (e.g. a Top Screen or Security Vulnerability Assessment) that would itself be CVI and subject to all CVI protections.”

The reason for this is that in most cases inventory reports provide information on a wide variety of chemicals (usually a mixture of COI and non-COI chemicals) in different containers and locations. Without a good understanding of local nomenclature it would be difficult for a person without access to the inventory control system to determine the amount and location of Chemicals of Interest.


Inventory Reports May be CVI


Taking all of this into consideration it is easy to see that periodic inventory control documents for most chemical facilities would not be considered CVI. While not specifically addressed in the CVI Manual it is clear that some inventory reports should be considered CVI. These would include any report that isolates and consolidates inventory data on DHS Chemicals of Interest held at the facility. This type of report would be used to prepare Top Screen or Security Vulnerability Assessment submissions.


Another exception to the general CVI exception for inventory control documents would be seen at high-risk chemical facilities that inventory only (or mainly) DHS Chemicals of Interest. These would be facilities, like propane distributors, that only deal with the sale and servicing of a single commodity chemical.


A good rule of thumb (in my opinion) for determining if an inventory report should be considered to be CVI would to look at the document and answer this question:


  • Could an outsider with minimal information about the facility determine from the report the amount or location of a DHS Chemical of Interest at the facility?

Answer ‘Yes’ and the report should be considered to be CVI. A negative answer means that the document does not need the protection accorded to CVI.

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