The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and CropLife America (CLA) are analyzing the long awaited Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Act of 2005 (S.2145), which was introduced in December by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.). The legislation directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop security standards for facilities that produce and store chemicals. The bill specifically would require DHS to develop within one year a list of 'chemicals of concern,' establish criteria to determine which chemical sites are to be included under regulation, and develop a tier system based on risk to classify facilities. Facilities will have six months after rules are finalized to conduct and submit vulnerability assessments and obtain a certificate of compliance. DHS will have one year to review the plans of facilities in the highest risk tier. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is expected to consider the proposed legislation in early 2006.

CLA and TFI support the bill's approach of allowing DHS to develop the performance standards and oversee compliance. The organizations believe the bill correctly incorporates the DHS strategy of focusing the Department's resources on those facilities that pose the most risk. However, the organizations are very concerned that the legislation does not provide uniform national regulation by allowing states to establish their own security measures, which could disrupt ongoing national security efforts within DHS. TFI and CLA are also concerned about language within the bill which could have a major impact on business operations while doing little to further security goals by requiring facilities to modify production and storage practices.

The organizations are also concerned about several other provisions in the bill pertaining to criminal penalties for "knowingly" violating the provisions of the law rather than the higher standard of "knowingly and willfully", how Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) facilities are handled, the weak provision pertaining to protection of information, and the singling out of ammonium nitrate as a substance of concern.

CLA and TFI will continue to work with members of the committee to improve the bill as it moves through the legislative process.

Source: CropLife America