Federal security regulations for chemical plants proposed
The Department of Homeland Security has proposed new regulations that would require chemical companies like DuPont and Dow Chemical Co. to tighten security at their U.S. plants.
The rules, which stem from concerns that an attack on chemical plants could prompt a deadly spill or explosion, would require companies to put in place a buffer zone outside the facilities, require personnel background checks and allow the DHS to perform site visits.
Dupont said that it’s too early to say which of its sites will be affected by the new rules, but added that it already has stepped up security measures since the Sept. 11 attacks.
“We are well prepared to ensure all provisions are appropriately implemented at our sites,” Kelli Kukura, a spokeswoman for the Wilmington, Del.-based chemicals company, said in a statement.
DHS proposed implementing the first phases of the rules in April. Companies found to be repeatedly in violation would have to pay fines of up to $25,000 a day. The regulations are open for public comment until Feb. 7. After that, the DHS will review comments and issue the final regulations.
“Although many companies in the chemical industry have initiated voluntary security programs and have made significant capital investments in responsible security measures, the Secretary of Homeland Security has concluded that voluntary efforts alone will not provide sufficient security for the nation,” according to the DHS notice.
DHS won authority to regulate the security of high-risk chemical facilities after President Bush signed the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007 on Oct. 4.