Senate Homeland Security Passes CFATS Reauthorization

On Wednesday, June 29th, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed S 473, the Continuing Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Security Act as introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).  The measure passed by a vote of 8 to 2.

The bipartisan measure (Sens. Landrieu (LA) and Pryor (AR) are cosponsors) extends current CFATS requirements under the DHS Appropriations Act through 2014.  As passed, the bill does not include water or wastewater utilities nor does it address issues of inherently safer technologies.

Beyond existing requirements, S 473 also calls for:  1) establishment of a voluntary chemical security training program to enhance the capabilities of covered chemical facilities  to prevent, prepare for, respond to, mitigate against, and recover from acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and other man-made disasters; and 2) development of a voluntary chemical security exercise program to offer voluntary testing and evaluation of the capabilities of the federal government, state governments, commercial personnel and management, emergency response providers, and the private sector to prevent, prepare for, mitigate against, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and other emergencies at covered chemical facilities.

The measure also directs DHS to establish a voluntary technical assistance program to make recommendations to owners/operators of a covered facility about risk and consequence reduction or compliance assistance with risk-based performance standards.  Under bill DHS would also be required to develop a repository for information and data on best practices and cost-effective technologies for implementing CFATS and the voluntary technical assistance program; submit a report regarding lessons learned from that program; and establish a Chemical Facility Security Advisory Board to advise the Secretary on CFATS implementation.

Although no specific sums are authorized under this measure, the Subcommittee agreed to work with Senator Collins to help identify budget “offsets” to cover the anticipated appropriations needed for the new programs.