Throughout 2014, the American Coatings Association says it repeatedly urged Congressional passage of a multi-year CFATS reauthorization bill.
The “Protecting and Securing American Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014” reauthorizes the CFATS program until 2018, improves management practices and whistleblower protections, and simplifies reporting and information sharing.
“ACA believes that the multi-year authorization not only enables DHS to implement CFATS, but also provides industry with the confidence to make important investments, knowing the program will be authorized. ACA believes that the former practice of year-to-year extensions (or worse, short-term continuing resolutions through the appropriations process), is a destabilizing force in the implementation and investment process,” the organization said on its website.
“ACA believes that multi-year authorization gives DHS just enough guidance to more successfully carry out its duties, while at the same time providing Congress the ability to monitor the program and make any necessary changes to it after the expiration of the multi-year period.”
The law addresses some of the major impediments to completing site security plans and full implementation of the program. It restores the principle that facilities have flexibility to choose how to meet personnel surety requirements for access, gives covered facilities the ability to meet site security plans through alternate security plans approved by DHS and an option to use third parties as inspectors, improves Congressional oversight regarding tiering methodology, and ensures better coordination with state and local officials.
CFATS, which was first authorized under the 2007 DHS Appropriations Act, requires facilities with threshold quantities of particular “chemicals of concern” to complete a “top screen” notifying DHS that they possess such chemicals on site. Once notified, DHS can direct the facility to submit a Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) and it then might assign the facility to one of four tiers based on the potential security threat on site, an action which triggers a requirement to submit an SSP to DHS for authorization and approval.