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U.S. chemical plants new front in "War on Terror"

October 12, 2006

1 Min Read
U.S. chemical plants new front in "War on Terror"

Tucked away in legislation passed as the U.S. Congress neared its fall recess is chemical-security legislation that will require security measures be taken at U.S. petrochemical facilities with the threat of shutdowns looming for transgressors. As part of the $34.8 billion homeland security appropriations bill passed by the House and Senate on Sept. 30, the Homeland Security Department will be authorized to regulate chemical facilities—as called for by security experts nearly 5 years ago in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC; Arlington, VA), which includes the American Plastics Council, worked closely with lawmakers, and prior to passage of the bill, says its 133 chemical manufacturing members, who represent 85% of U.S. chemical production capacity, had spent nearly $3 billion on voluntary measures to secure their plants.

The ACC says its members implemented a self-imposed Responsible Care Security Code, which covered site, transportation, and cyber security. Independent third-party representatives, such as local law enforcement, reviewed the implementation.

In its current form, the legislation calls for the creation of regulations within six months that would create standards enforceable thereafter. The legal wrangling wasn’t without its difficulties, evidenced by the limited three-year run the law will have, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, with it expiring after that or being renegotiated. Chemical companies did get one concession, with any data reported being treated as classified to avoid any public scrutiny. The Journal did report, however, that the industry didn’t receive a clear ruling on whether these federal standards will trump state and local measures, which can be stricter.—Tony Deligio; [email protected]

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