Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill and Security Recovery

The Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this week published the text of the bill that would provide supplemental appropriations for relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy. The Senate will begin consideration of this legislation as HR 1 (substituting the relief language for the 2011 spending language passed by the House). As with all spending bills the devil is in the details as provisions are added to get support from key Senators.

There is one thing (okay at least one thing) that does seem to be missing from this bill and that is any consideration for supporting recovery of security systems at critical infrastructure facilities affected by Sandy. Facilities in the affected area that have federally mandated security systems, high-risk chemical facilities covered under CFATS for instance, undoubtedly suffered some level of damage to those systems. If those systems are really necessary to protect the homeland from potential terrorist attack (and I certainly believe they are), then providing some sort of assistance to get those systems functioning at pre-storm levels should be included in this supplemental appropriation.

There should be CFATS facilities in the area that have an approved site security plan; chances are good as New Jersey certainly has some Tier 1 facilities that should have completed the SSP approval process (oops… conditional approval as there still is no DHS support for personnel surety vetting against the Terrorist Screening Database).  ISCD should be directed to re-inspect those facilities at the earliest possible moment to ensure that they are still meet the security requirements outlined in their SSP. Deficiencies should be noted and a plan worked out with the facility to correct those deficiencies. Grants and loans, as appropriate, should be available to help facilities to execute those plans.
Actually, this type of effort should be written into law, not as part of a supplemental spending bill, but as a part of any reasonably comprehensive chemical facility security legislation. But that is something for the 113th Congress to consider. Let’s get language added to HR 1 that takes care of this for Hurricane Sandy affected facilities.

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