Return to ASDWA's Newsroom

Legislative Update: Chemical Spills and CFATS

Both chemical spill safety and chemical facility anti-terrorism standards (CFATS) have been much on Congressional minds of late.  Below is a quick update on the status of legislative initiatives in both chambers on these two subjects.
Chemical Spill Safety
Senate:  S. 1961, Chemical Safety & Drinking Water Protection (Joe Manchin, D-WV) – Passed the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee in early April.  No Committee Report generated as yet.  The bill amends the SDWA to direct EPA or each state exercising primary enforcement responsibility for public water systems to carry out a state chemical storage facility source water protection program.  Such a program must provide for oversight and inspection of each covered chemical storage facility…to prevent the release of chemicals into the water supply in watersheds with public water systems that rely on surface water, including a covered chemical storage facility located pursuant to a source water quality assessment (carried out upon state modification of monitoring requirements). The bill deems a state program and its requirements, for purposes of primary enforcement responsibility, to be part of the national primary drinking water regulations and requires that they be implemented and enforced in accordance with the procedures applicable to such responsibility.
House:  HR 4024, Ensuring Access to the Clean Water Act (Shelly M. Capito, R-WV) – Introduced in February and referred to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources & Environment.  No hearings or other movement have taken place to date.  The bill contains language similar to the Senate for most of the provisions.  However, this bill places tank inspection and oversight responsibilities within the Clean Water Act program.
CFATS
House:  HR 4007, Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Authorization and Accountability Act (Patrick Meehan, R-PA) – Passed the House April 30.  The bill requires DHS to: (1) establish risk-based performance standards designed to protect covered chemical facilities from acts of terrorism; (2) require such facilities to submit security vulnerability assessments and develop and implement site security plans; (3) review and approve or disapprove each such assessment and plan; (4) arrange for the audit and inspection of covered chemical facilities to determine compliance with this Act; and (5) notify, and issue an order to comply to, the owner or operator of a facility not in compliance. At present, water and wastewater utilities are exempted from the requirements of this act.  However, in response to DHS concerns, this bill calls for DHS to review and give special attention as to whether removing the exemption would better protect water and wastewater treatment plans from attack using chlorine gas – which is the disinfectant of choice for a number of facilities – and whether they should be covered under the Act.  This is part of a larger 3rd party vulnerability assessment for all CFATS covered facilities.
Senate:  S 67 – Secure Chemical Facilities Act (Lautenberg, D-PA) – Introduced in 2013 and referred to the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee.  However, the comprehensive measure has not received attention since Senator Lautenberg, the original author, passed away in June 2013 and is not likely to be the vehicle for reauthorization.  The Committee held a hearing on May 15 but did not specifically discuss waiver or exemption provisions for water and wastewater utilities.  Most of the discussion centered around the existing program and its progress and ongoing challenges.  At the end of the discussion, Committee Chair Tom Carper (D-DE) promised some form of reauthorization for the existing program.