Source: Agricultural Retailers Association

U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), recently introduced legislation to extend, for five years, a law that strengthens security at our nation's chemical facilities, according to the Agricultural Retailers Association.

The "Continuing Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Security Act" would reauthorize the law that is now set to expire in October, providing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with sufficient time to fully implement the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards program. This program requires that our nation's high-risk chemical facilities comply with certain minimum security standards.

The original law, signed in October 2006, authorized the Secretary of Homeland Security to mandate greater security at our nation's chemical facilities to help prevent a terror attack and shut down those facilities that do not comply with applicable security standards.

"The Department of Homeland Security has done a remarkable job developing a comprehensive chemical security program," said Sen. Collins. "This industry is vital to our country's economy and important to advancements and innovations in critical fields such as science, technology, agriculture, medicine and manufacturing, but it can also be a dangerous threat in the event of a terrorist attack. That is why it is critical that we enable the department to continue this important work. The legislation passed by the House of Representatives would unwisely bring this progress to a screeching halt."

In November 2009, the House of Representatives passed legislation (HR 2868) that would slow or even stop progress when it comes to securing U.S. chemical facilities and impose unnecessary and costly burdens on the economy. For example, the House bill would allow DHS to mandate that certain chemical facilities implement Inherently Safer Technology (IST) which could actually increase the security threat.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently notified 544 facilities across the U.S. of their FINAL tiering assignment under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) rules. The Site Security Plans for these 544 facilities will be due to DHS no later than June 1, 2010. To date, CFATS covers 6,023 facilities (3,507 Final tiered facilities, 2,516 preliminarily tiering facilities). Totals by Tier (combined preliminary and final tiering) are as follows: Tier 1: 230; Tier 2: 563; Tier 3: 1,231; and Tier 4: 3,999.