As the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) recently relayed to Congress the successes of the current chemical site security rules, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced legislation that reportedly would needlessly alter the standards and wreak economic havoc on regulated facilities. Lautenberg introduced the Secure Chemicals Facilities Act, which would mandate that chemical facilities switch to so-called safer chemicals or processes known as inherently safer technology (IST).

“While four previous bills have been introduced this Congress extending the current security rules, Lautenberg has chosen to advocate for costly and unnecessary adjustments to standards that are widely believed to be comprehensive and accountable,” said Bill Allmond, vice president of Government Relations for SOCMA.

In testimony given before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, Allmond told lawmakers that IST is a discredited concept and unsuited to regulation. He reiterated in written testimony submitted to the hearing that “[IST] is an elegant concept, but the reality is almost never that simple. A reduction in hazard will reduce overall risk if, and only if, that hazard is not displaced to another time or location, or results in the creation of some new hazard.” He noted there is no agreed-upon methodology to measure whether one process is inherently safer than another.

“For all these reasons, the world’s foremost experts in IST and chemical engineering have consistently recommended against regulating inherent safety for security purposes,” he said.

Testifying on behalf of the DHS, Rand Beers, under secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, said that current standards are delivering tangible results to make our nation more secure.

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