Magazine article National Defense

Chemical Security Legislation Moves Slowly

Magazine article National Defense

Chemical Security Legislation Moves Slowly

Article excerpt

Among the new laws passed in the years following the 9/11 attacks, chemical plant security has so far been left out. Legislation to harden such facilities has been Introduced every year since 2001, but the bills have gone nowhere.

Authority over chemical plants shifted from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Homeland security. However, that "authority" Is almost nonexistent, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

DHS has Identified 3,400 facilities as posing possible hazards to the public. It was tasked In 2003 with writing a chemical sector-specific plan to assess vulnerabilities and develop programs to prevent, deter, mitigate attacks as well as recovery plans if a plant should come under attack. So far, the report Is unfinished, and DHS does not have a timetable for when it will be released.

And even If ft did have a report in hand, the department does not have congressionally mandated authority to enforce any actions.

"[DHS] has relied primarily on the industry's voluntary security efforts," the report said. "However, the extent to which companies are addressing security is unclear."

DHS lacks the authority to require chemical facilities to implement security plans and its representatives could not enter a facility without the company's permission to inspect or enforce regulations.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and the ranking Democrat, Sen. …

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