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House attempts to extend chemical security act.

* The House of Representatives is working on extending a law set to expire in October that aims to harden chemical facilities against terrorist attacks.

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security's chemical facilities antiterrorism standards program, or CFATS, have not had enough time to fully assess all of the country's chemical facilities that may be vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Under a law Congress passed in 2007, facilities identified as the most vulnerable--designated as tiers one through four i must inventory all hazardous materials, carry out a vulnerability assessment, then draw up site security plans to address any risks.

There are some 7,000 such sites in the United States.

The revised law, the Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Act of 2009, will fine tune the regulations and make CFATS rules permanent.

"By requiring the highest-risk facilities to switch to safer chemicals or processes when it is econom ically and technologically possible to do so, this legislation will make our communities less vulnerable to a terrorist-designed Bhopal in Boston, Baton Rouge or Buffalo," said Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Commerce Committee's subcommittee on energy, at the bearing. Be was referring to the industrial disaster that occurred at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in India in 1984, but was not caused by terrorists.

CFATS program advisors will also be working closely with the Coast Guard's Maritime Transportation Security Act program advisors to coordinate their antiterrorism efforts to protect U.S. ports and ships that transport chemicals.

Phillip Reitinger, acting undersecretary for the national protection and programs directorate at DHS said, "We are in ongoing discussions with the Coast Guard to work towards harmonization of the CFATS and MTSA regimes so that we have a consistent level of protection."
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Comment:House attempts to extend chemical security act.(SECURITY BEAT: HOMELAND DEFENSE BRIEFS)
Publication:National Defense
Date:Aug 1, 2009
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