SOCMA Urges Congressional Action on Chemical-Site Security Standards

Feb 24, 2011

The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), in a statement submitted to the US House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies, called for Congressional action to pass a three-to-five year authorization of current Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), which are scheduled to expire on Mar. 4, 2011. SOCMA is a trade association that represents batch and custom manufacturers, including contract manufacturers of active pharmaceutical ingredients, intermediates, and other fine chemicals.

In previously stating its position, SOCMA said it supports existing standards for chemical facilities being implemented by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act. CFATS are risk-based performance standards for the security of US chemical facilities. Although the fine-chemical and chemical industries support the CFATS program, they oppose mandating the use of inherently safer technology (IST). IST is a conceptual framework that covers chemical-processing procedures, equipment, protection, and when feasible, the use of safer substances.

“The need for annual reauthorization of the program has created uncertainty for the chemical industry, which is making large financial investments in tools and technology in order to comply with the current CFATS standards,” said SOCMA President Lawrence D. Sloan, in a press release. “Without the assurance of a long-term authorization of chemical-security regulations, companies run a risk of investing in costly activities today that might not satisfy regulatory standards tomorrow.”

Sloan cited the importance of implementing “the program from start to finish,” which would provide DHS and chemical companies the ability to assess the overall efficacy of CFATS, identify its areas of strength and weakness, and subsequently make or recommend to Congress any necessary improvements. He additionally reiterated SOCMA’s opposition to provisions included in House-passed legislation from the 111th Congress that would have required chemical facilities to use IST in their processes. “An IST mandate on the chemical industry would take decisions away from the process-safety experts who know their own processes the best,” Sloan said in the release.

With regard to future chemical security legislation, SOCMA recommended that Congress should extend the authorization of existing chemical-facility security standards for three or more years. In its press release, SOCMA also called on Congress to “abandon any IST mandate, as it will create negative unintended consequences and increase or transfer overall risk.”

For additional information on SOCMA’s position on IST, click here.

For related articles, see:
SOCMA Voices Concern over Chemical-Site Security Bill (ePT)

House Committee Passes IST Requirements in Chemical Facility Security Bill (ePT)

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