The Department of Homeland Security released today its finalized list of chemicals of interest, or those chemicals that if held in a certain quantity triggers a facility to undergo an online risk assessment tool.
The finalized list of chemicals is an appendix to DHS' Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Standards(CFATS), a critical effort of protecting the nation's chemical infrastructure from terrorist attack.
DHS determined which chemicals it woud regulate using three criteria: release—chemicals whose toxic, flammable, or explosive properties could do harm to people when released or detonated; theft and diversion—chemicals that can be stolen and used to make weapons; and sabotage and contamination—chemicals when mixed and released could harm people.
Under the rule, if a facility possesses a chemical of interest at or above the screening threshold quantity, the facility must complete and submit a consequence assessment known as a Top-Screen. A facility must do so within 60 calendar days of the publication of a final Appendix A or within 60 calendar days of coming into possession of the listed chemicals at or above the listed STQs.
DHS assures that most facilities that fill out a Top Screen will probably not be subject to further regulation.
One chemical whose possible regulation caused particular distress among industry, especially agriculture, was propane. Because of the overwhelming concern raised during the comment period, DHS compromised on the screening threshold quantity that would trigger a Top-Screen. The result:
"Most agricultural users of propane – with perhaps the exception of very large industrial-type agricultural concerns – will not likely be required to complete and submit a Top-Screen."
DHS said it was concentrating on propane and other chemicals that share its explosive qualities because of fears terrorists could detonate large tanks situated near crowded population centers or steal these chemicals for later use in improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Those companies wondering how they might avoid the hassles of the CFATS should read the August print issue of Security Mangement which reported how facilities could avoid tiresome regulations by adopting inherently safer technologies (ISTs) or replacing dangerous chemicals and processes with benign ones.