The National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) applauds the Chemical Sector Coordinating Council, the Emergency Services Sector Coordinating Council, and the National Sheriffs’ Association for sending a letter to congressional leadership underscoring the importance of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Security (CFATS) program to local communities following Congress’ failure to reauthorize this critical program by July 27, 2023.

The letter highlights the important role of the CFATS program in coordinating and maintaining collaborative relationships with local law enforcement and first responders to further protect chemical sites and communities from a range of threats.

“By identifying and working with these high-risk facilities, the CFATS program ensures security measures are in place to reduce the risk of more than 300 chemicals of interest being weaponized. High-risk facilities are assigned to one of four risk-based tiers and must develop a security plan meeting the 18 risk-based performance standards criteria.”

The letter continues, “Building collaborative relationships with local law enforcement and responders prior to an incident helps ensure response personnel have an improved understanding of the facility’s layout and hazards, maintain appropriate equipment and training to address facility hazards, and allow them to take quick and decisive action during an incident. Involving local first responders when preparing the plan and conducting drills can significantly benefit the facility. The first time that local law enforcement or responders access the facility should not be the day of an incident.”

“The loss of CFATS creates immediate risks and problems by eliminating the ability to vet personnel against terrorist watch lists, eliminating the requirement to collaborate with local emergency services, increasing exposure to cyber threats, and creating an additional regulatory burden by no longer having a U.S. Department of Homeland Security approved chemical security site security plan that other U.S. regulatory agencies accept.”

The letter also warns of the risks associated with the continued lapse in the program.

“It is evident that the CFATS program plays a pivotal role in securing our nation’s critical infrastructure and national supply chains,” the letter concludes. “Additionally, the CFATS program ensures across-the-board communication and collaboration between high-risk chemical facilities and local emergency services that protect communities. For these reasons, we would like to reiterate our sectors’ support for the CFATS program to ensure high-risk chemical facilities remain secure against bad actors.”

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To read the full letter, click here.