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In recent testimony before Congress, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) commended the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for improving its implementation of the nation’s chemical security regulatory program, while urging the agency to show more flexibility in setting deadlines for small and medium-sized chemical companies. Bill Allmond, SOCMA’s vice president of Government and Public Relations, told members of the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy that SOCMA members regard the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) as a success. He said CFATS is helping facilities reduce risk, explaining that nearly 3,000 have already reduced their risk profile sufficiently enough that they no longer warrant regulation under the program.
“CFATS is driving facilities to reduce inherent hazards, where in their expert judgment doing so is in fact safer, does not transfer risk to some other point in the supply chain, and makes economic sense,” he said.
Allmond also spoke positively about the level of communication between DHS inspectors and SOCMA member facilities. He said facilities report that inspectors are generally reasonable during onsite inspections. However, Allmond was critical of the amount of time and resources SOCMA members must invest in adjusting site security plans following an inspection under very short deadlines, while making it clear that DHS’s request for additional information is an expected part of the process.
“Our members have encountered, so far, an unwillingness to reasonably extend deadlines or provide additional time for facility response,” Allmond said. “Under a 30-day deadline, facilities are having to pull two or three workers for two or three days each—a total of more than 70 man hours—from their productive jobs to ensure they meet the deadline.”
For additional information, visit www.socma.com.