Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Security at Small Wastewater Treatment Plants

The Water Environmental Research Foundation ( website is currently advertising a web seminar covering security at small wastewater treatment facilities to be held on September 16th. Dr. Chuck Herrick of Stratus Consulting will be conducting the webinar. While wastewater treatment facilities are currently exempted from CFATS requirements by the §550 authorizing language, chemical security issues for these facilities will be briefly addressed. Registration for the webinar is currently open. The CFATS reauthorization legislation (HR 2868) currently being considered in Congress will remove the §550 exemption from waste water treatment facilities, so some of these facilities may find themselves falling under CFATS if the legislation passes. I briefly talked with Chuck Herrick earlier this week and asked him if this was being addressed in the webinar. He told me that this small facility security program has been under development for some time and is designed to address the current situation, not potential new legislation. Of the ten ‘best practices’ being discussed in the webinar, only one will address chemical security issues. The chemical security portion of the webinar will look at a listing of potential waste water treatment chemicals that present security issues, including, for example, chlorine gas. The webinar will address 9 practice areas or activities that can be used to address chemical security issues. Special emphasis will be placed on coordination with local law enforcement and emergency response agencies. Finally, participants will be provided with links to EPA and ASME web sites that deal with security issues at wastewater treatment facilities. The facilities being targeted by this webinar are facilities that service small communities and tribal areas. As a result the security budgets for these facilities are very limited. The security functions are folded into the duties of the one to two employees that service the facilities. This makes the security challenge that much tougher. I’m glad to see that someone is attempting to assist this type of facility in making reasonable adjustments to their operations to protect the security of the facility and their surrounding community.

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