Napolitano Talks CFATS

Earlier this month I was at the 2010 Chemical Sector Security Summit in Baltimore. The two-day event drew more than 400 participants and it was the best turn out I have seen in four years of attending this event. It was great to see that much interest in chemical security and CFATS. It was co-sponsored by the Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP), as the Chemical Sector-Specific Agency together with the Chemical Sector Coordinating Council.

Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano was the keynote speaker. Again, the theme was federal and private sector cooperation. Napolitano stressed the importance of that partnership and said that working together was essential. She also pointed out the need for coordination between governmental agencies including the DHS, U.S. Coast Guard, TSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The secretary said she is confident that the CFATS mandate will be extended and she believes that an Inherently Safe Technology (IST) clause will be part of any legislation surrounding CFATS. The Obama administration and democrats support an IST approach to chemical security saying it is the only real way to secure some of the facilities that are at the highest risk for terrorism. The chemical industry is opposed to IST language in any bills passed because industry leaders believe it might lead to unrealistic limitations on chemicals and processes for facilities using, making and storing chemicals. Some believe that ISTs could drive businesses off shore and impact chemical sector jobs in the United States.

Secretary Napolitano also reviewed the role homeland security is playing in developing and implementing chemical security mandates as well as voluntary programs. She stressed the effectiveness of "flexible, practical and collaborative" programs such as CFATS. She also pointed out the importance of cyber security for the protection of chemical plants as well as physical security.

Larry Sloan from the industry organization, SOCMA (Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates) also spoke. His organization agreed with Napolitano about the need for cooperation between DHS and the industry and said the secretary deserved high praise for cooperative efforts.

 

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