Thursday, June 18, 2009

HR 2883 Text Available

As I noted yesterday HR 2883, Wastewater Treatment Works Security Act of 2009, was introduced in the House on Tuesday. The GPO web site (access via now has the text available for down load. It is a relatively short bill, only 16 pages. It amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to provide for security at wastewater treatment works. It would add §222, Wastewater Treatment Works Security to that Act. Assessment of Treatment Works Vulnerability This bill would require owner/operators of Wastewater Treatment Works to conduct vulnerability assessments if they stored or used a “a substance of concern in quantities deemed by the [EPA] Administrator to pose a security risk” That assessment would be addressed at intentional actions that would ‘substantially’ disrupt the operation of the facility or present a hazard to “critical infrastructure, public health or safety, or the environment” {§222(a)(2)(A)}. The vulnerability assessment would include the development of a site security plan that would identify ‘specific security enhancements’ designed to decrease the vulnerabilities identified in the assessment. The EPA Administrator would have until December 31st, 2009 to develop (with the advice of the DHS Secretary) guidelines for carrying out the vulnerability assessment and developing the site security plan. The guidelines would also identify an “array of potential security enhancements, including procedures, countermeasures, or equipment” {§222(a)(2)(D)(ii)(I)} that the owner/operator could use to reduce the facility vulnerability. Those guidelines would also include standards for establishing the relative risk to the facility and assigning the facility to one of four risk-based classifications. The EPA Administrator would also have to work with the DHS Secretary to develop a list of ‘substances of concern’ and a threshold quantity for each substance. Appendix A to 6 CFR Part 27 will be ‘taken into consideration’ when the list is developed. The vulnerability assessments would be required to be submitted to the Administrator on a staggered schedule based on the risk ranking with the highest risk facilities being required to submit their assessment by December 31st 2010. The Administrator would then be responsible for approving or disapproving the adequacy of the assessment and associated security plan. The assessment guidelines would also establish rules for the protection of information developed under this section. The rules would establish that the information could not be disclosed under §552 of Title 5 USC or under state or local laws. The rules would establish procedures for sharing information with “State and local government officials possessing the necessary security clearances, including law enforcement officials and first responders, for the purpose of carrying out this section” {§222(a)(5)(C)}. Grants The Administrator is authorized to make grants under this program for ‘Security Assessment and Planning Assistance’. Additionally grants may be made for ‘Technical Assistance’ to small publicly owned treatment works. Grant funding may be made through non-profit organizations. The bill authorizes $200 million for security assessment and planning assistance grants and $15 million for technical assistance to small, publicly owned treatment works. Those amounts are authorized for FY2010 thru FY2014. My Comments It is interesting that the word ‘terrorism’ never once appears within this bill. I am sure that was deliberately done to avoid having to have this bill referred to the Homeland Security Committee in addition to its current assignment to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The fact that it was not also assigned to the Energy and Commerce Committee probably means that this bill will not actually get considered unless HR 2868 fails to make it into law. After all, that bill much more effectively addresses the security requirements of waste water treatment facilities that qualify as chemical facilities than does this bill. Of course, I may be wrong in this assessment. This bill was cosponsored by Chairman Oberstar of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

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