Monday, September 24, 2018

S 3405 CFATS Reauthorization – PSP

This is another in a series of blog posts about S 3405, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2018, which would reauthorize the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program for five years. The other blog posts in the series include:

Personnel Surety Program

Section 7 of the bill was written in response to industry concerns about the expansion of the personnel surety program reporting requirements to Tier 3 and Tier 4 facilities. It amends 6 USC 622(d)(2)(A) in two instances. The first would make participation in the terrorist screening database (TSDB) via the Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT) mandatory for all Tier 1 and 2 facilities and optional (at the owner’s discretion) for Tier 3 and 4 facilities.

The second change is an additional attempt to limit the scope of the TSDB screening. It modifies the description of those covered by the requirement by adding the qualifier “who will have access to any chemical of interest”. Currently the program covers all facility employees, as well as most contractors and visitors that have unaccompanied access to critical areas of the facility.


The big problem with both this section and the DHS effort to expand the application of the personnel surety program to Tier 3 and 4 facilities (already required, but the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division set up the implementation of the PSP in a two phased process) is that there has been no official evaluation of the efficacy of the program. I would have been much more comfortable with the section if it had prohibited ISCD from starting phase II of the PSP implementation until after the GAO had a chance to report on the first phase. Two important items would have to be included in that report, the number of people in Tier 1 and 2 facilities that were reported as being found on the TSDB and the number of those who were inappropriately identified.

One thing that Sen. Johnson appears to have not taken into account in his effort to appease the chemical industry’s ongoing complaints about the PSP is that a large proportion of the Tier 3 and Tier 4 facilities are in the CFATS program because of their possession or manufacture of chemicals that are on the list of DHS chemicals of interest (COI) because they can be used to make improvised chemical weapons or improvised explosives. This means that they are at risk, not so much for release on site, but for theft or diversion to some underground manufacturing site where they would be converted into weapons. These facilities would be prime targets for infiltration (if we had an active terrorist threat) by terrorist organizations to effect the theft or diversion of these COI.

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