Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Community is Ignoring CFATS Listening Sessions

I’m in Houston on business this week so I thought that I would show up at the CFATS ANPRM listening session that was held today. I had not registered as wishing to make a comment, rather I was attending for a chance to talk to people with an interest in the ANPRM. I’m mean Houston has a huge number of chemical facilities that would certainly have an interest in potential changes to the CFATS regulations.

Boy was I disappointed. No one was there except for the DHS folks that were waiting around to listen. When I got there at 3:30 pm (the session was supposed to run from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm) I was the 12th (that’s right # 12!!!!!) person to show up today. Talking to the DHS people there it seems that their first session in Washington, DC was little better attended.

Both of these listening sessions were scheduled for a full day because DHS was just certain that these two locations would have a large turnout of people wishing to share their ideas about what the new CFATS rules should look like. Apparently they were wrong. Apparently the chemical community in Houston does not care about what changes might be made to the program.

Now I understand that the corporate folks probably want to go through a more formal internal review process before they put forth their views. Those comments will almost certainly be in written form with a full review by legal departments. That is not who DHS was targeting with these listening sessions, it was looking for the views of the people down in the trenches; operators, truck drivers, security guards and security system vendors. And they just did not show up.

Now part of the reason may be that DHS reached out to the wrong folks. I’ve already taken them to task for not publishing this information on the CFATS web site. Instead they concentrated on sending out information to facilities already under the CFATS program and business organizations that support those facilities. That is certainly a legitimate outreach effort. But I have got to wonder if they bothered notifying the local press. There is certainly nothing listed in the Houston Chronicle about today’s meeting.

Hopefully, DHS will reach out to the Atlanta papers before the next physical listening session in that fair city next week. And since DHS passed over Charleston, WV (figuring no doubt that interested parties could have come to Washington, just down the road), maybe Ken Ward would like to invite them to hold a session in that fair city. They certainly have concerns about chemical issues of all sorts there.

Come on people. Let’s get some interested folks to turn out for these events. Take the opportunity to see the regulators face-to-face. Make your opinions known. Register to attend one of the upcoming listening sessions.

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