Chertoff wants DHS role in regulating chemical security
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says his department should play a role in regulating security at Dow Chemical Co. and its rivals, Bloomberg News reports.
Yet Chertoff said he did not support going as far as some Democrats and environmental groups who would restrict the use of chemicals or processes that the government deemed dangerous.
The goal “is to drastically reduce the risks of those plants that do pose a serious threat,” he said at a forum on chemical security in Washington. “What I’m reluctant to do is to start to prescribe very specific ways that has to be done.”
Chertoff said the Department of Homeland Security should establish security standards for the 15,000 plants that make and use chemicals. Companies should decide how to meet the standards, and compliance should be monitored by private firms, Chertoff says. He adds that he would work with the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee to craft legislation to that effect.
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D., Mass.) said that Chertoff was not asking enough from chemical companies and that the firms should be forced to use safer chemicals and methods when possible.
“If all the administration does is call for minimum standards, it will get standards that are minimal,” Markey said in a statement. “We need a strong bill.”
The American Chemistry Council says its members have spent more than $3 billion to protect against truck bombs, strengthen computer networks, and otherwise upgrade security since the Sept. 11 attacks. The council said it supported Chertoff’s efforts to regulate plant security.