Mitigating the Chemical Threat
There are two systems and agencies working with ag retailer operations to assure materials that could be made into explosives or other types of mass destruction devices are being properly stored, inventoried and not allowed into the hands of unknown persons. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have different roles but cooperate to accomplish the same thing.
The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) regulations classifies facilities in tiers of risk based upon the quantities and types of 325 chemicals that might be used in terrorism—mainly mass destruction for causing large numbers of deaths.
Greg Handke, chemical security inspector with the DHS, in talking about CFATS last summer, said that since it is a self-identification program, the first thing a retailer takes a look at is these 325 chemicals and then looks at whether any of the companies’ facility has any of the chemicals at the volumes, including mixtures or concentrations, outlined by the program.
Handke provided rough numbers of between 40,000 and 50,000 companies that have filed Top-Screen, Security Vulnerability Assessments. Of those original numbers, approximately 4,400 facilities were found to be handling the chemicals of concern (COI) in volumes to rank them as high risk and having to meet applicable risk-based performance standards (RBPS). As companies’ volumes of COI being handled and sold go up or down for the future, new Top-Screens are expected to be filed to either take a company out of the high-risk tier or put them into that tier.
As one of the COI, ammonium nitrate is receiving its own special attention as one of the easiest products to use for bomb making. Special regulations on handling this fertilizer are separate. The “Secure Handling of Ammonium Nitrate” statutory authority is to counter the use of ammonium nitrate for an act of terrorism:
“Those regulations really look, for lack of a word, like a know-your-customer kind of activity. When I read the registry of ammonium nitrate handler requirements it is a Top-Screen similar to CFATS,” Handke said.
“Inventory control and know-your-customer work together for unregulated or regulated (high-risk) facilities,” Handke said. Facilities maintaining records for two or three years are typical today. “It is typical for companies from the perspective of even small companies having inventory control measures and repeat customer records.”
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