Chemical Industry Backs DHS' Plant Security Rule

The National Association of Chemical Distributors and the American Chemistry Council signaled their support of a new interim final security rule for high-risk chemical plants that was released Monday by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The rule will take effect 60 days after it is published this week, pending comments received. NACD President Christopher L. Jahn said his group believes DHS "has developed a reasonable and well-thought-out plan to secure the nation's chemical facilities. NACD is pleased that the Interim Final Rule recognizes the importance of tiering facilities based on risk and establishing performance standards for each tier. We also commend the department's balanced approach on the preemption issue, which clarifies that state laws in conflict with the federal rules will be preempted, while providing a consultation and review process where there is a difference of opinion."

There is already a difference of opinion about the preemption. New Jersey's U.S. senators complained their state's scheme directing plants to use less hazardous chemical substitutes should not be preempted. DHS made some adjustments to its performance-based regulation, notably adding a provision allowing a facility to request an accelerated screening after it makes changes to lower its risk level below Tier 4, the lowest level. Commenters had requested this quicker route to "exit" the regulatory program. Also, DHS added a paragraph saying facilities must complete a Top-Screen in accordance with a specific schedule if they possess a sufficient amount of a chemical listed in the rule's Appendix A, "DHS Chemicals of Interest," which is posted at www.dhs.gov.

Users fees are not included in this regulation, but DHS said it is considering fees for filing, inspections, audits, and screening individuals against a Terrorist Screening Database and may propose them later.


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