DHS Releases Regulations For Securing High-Risk Chemical Facilities
The Department of Homeland Security released an interim final rule imposing for the first time comprehensive federal security regulations for high-risk chemical facilities.
The new rule gives the department authority to seek compliance through the imposition of civil penalties, up to $25,000 per day, and the ability to shut down non-compliant facilities.
The department sought and reviewed comments from state and local partners, Congress, private industry and the public to develop consistent guidelines using a risk-based approach.
In proposing a regulation for comment and then publishing an interim final rule prior to the deadline, the department has met an aggressive timeline set by Congress.
"The safety and security measures that we take need to be tough and balanced," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "We will significantly reduce vulnerability at high-consequence chemical facilities, taking into account important efforts in certain states."
The department will require owners of chemical facilities housing certain quantities of specified chemicals to complete a preliminary screening assessment that determines the level of risk associated with the facility.
If a chemical facility preliminarily qualifies as high-risk, its owners will be required to prepare and submit a security vulnerability assessment and site security plan. Submissions will be validated through audits and site inspections. The department will provide technical assistance to facility owners and operators as needed. Security standards will be required to achieve specific outcomes, such as securing the perimeter and critical targets, controlling access, deterring theft of potentially dangerous chemicals, and preventing internal sabotage.
Covered facilities contacted by the department will have 120 days from the publication of the regulation in the Federal Register to provide information for the risk assessment process.
The final regulation will be published in the Federal Register, and will be available at www.dhs.gov