Chemical Plants Seeing Widespread Demand For Screening
In April 2007, experts projected only about 10,000 chemical plants would need to submit to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Top Screen in 2007. As of Oct. 1, 2007, a staggering 40,000 plus plants have submitted Top Screens for review.
Why the huge discrepancy?
The government and the petrochemical industry are facing the very real fact that our critical infrastructure is currently being targeted for attack and that vulnerability exists. Many chemical plants previously thought to be negligible to our national security have been found to play integral roles in the stability of the nation’s critical infrastructure. The various types of chemical plants are now ranked by risk profile and are compelled to implement varying levels of new security measures to “harden” their facilities.
In order to meet the new regulations, chemical facilities must implement significant new security measures. These include electronic surveillance systems, card and gate access control and perimeter security. Furthermore, compliance with DHS regulations will require chemical facilities to develop comprehensive security plans and clearly defined protocols to mitigate the risk of a terrorist attack.
In anticipation of these regulations, security integrators are getting prepared. Infrastruct Security Inc., a Texas based security integrator, has been developing a program to assist facilities facing these new regulatory issues. Daniel Weiss, president and CEO of Infrastruct Security, has developed a platform that specifically addresses critical infrastructure security. “Fundamentally, DHS and chemical security facilities want to know when and where a security breach has occurred so that they can react accordingly,” says Weiss.
In order to comply with the regulations, high-risk chemical facilities are required to perform Security Vulnerability Assessments (SVAs) and formulate a Site Security Plan (SSP) which implements security measures that address the findings of the SVA. Facilities will be required to submit their SSP for review by the DHS who will provide consultation to ensure that the facility’s SSP meets Risk Based Performance Standards (RBPS) identified by the department. Departmental inspectors will inspect high-risk chemical facilities to assess the risk level of the facility and assist in the formulations of the appropriate security measures. Departmental inspectors will be dispatched on a regular basis depending upon the tier level of the facility. Higher tier facilities will be inspected first and more often.
Facilities that must comply with regulations are those facilities that manufacture, store or distribute certain chemicals above a specified quantity. The CSAT (Chemical Security Assessment Tool) Top Screen was developed as a method to determine which facilities meet the criteria to be considered high-risk. The CSAT Top Screen is an online-based questionnaire that must be completed by any facility that possesses or plans to possess certain chemicals. This screening determines the facility’s tier placement.
Although the cost of strengthening security measures will be significant, chemical facilities realize that these changes must be made in order to ensure the protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure. “Many companies impacted by the regulations are being very proactive by engaging in a productive dialogue. They realize that the risk impacts their own employees and assets as well,” says Weiss.
Non-compliance with DHS regulations could result in hefty fines for chemical facilities or even a shutdown. The business impact and legal ramifications have gained the attention of senior level executives.