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Bob Violino
Contributing writer

Chemical Sector Security: Uncle Sam Wants More

Aug 01, 20032 mins
ComplianceSecurityTechnology Industry

The chemical industry's voluntary efforts aren't likely to forestall all legislation

While the chemical industry tries to improve security through collaborative efforts, the federal government may provide further impetus to ensure that the critical sector is well protected.

Congress is considering legislation introduced in May that would allow the Department of Homeland Security to mandate chemical facility security measures. The Chemical Facilities Security Act of 2003, introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.), requires chemical companies to complete vulnerability assessments and site security plans. Penalties for noncompliance are stiff.

“No one gets a free pass under this bill; no one is exempt,” Inhofe said in introducing the bill. “Chemical facilities must abide by the legislation’s security requirements and any rules, procedures or standards developed by the Department of Homeland Security.”

Such regulation would fill a void noted in “The National Strategy for Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets” report, issued by the White House in February. While the report applauded the industry’s security initiatives, it noted that a “significant percentage of companies that operate major hazardous chemical facilities do not abide by voluntary security codes developed by other parts of the industry.”

Christine Adams, performance chemicals business IS manager at Dow Chemical and program manager of the Cyber-Security Program within the Chemicals Sector Cyber-Security Information Sharing Forum, says the group supports the new legislation. “It will assure that vulnerability assessments are being conducted,” she says.