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Chemical Security Bill Advances In House

by Glenn Hess
June 29, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 26

The House Homeland Security Committee approved legislation last week (H.R. 2868) that would give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) permanent authority to regulate security at chemical facilities. The measure would reauthorize and expand the existing antiterrorism standards for chemical facilities, which are set to expire in October. It would require plants to switch to safer chemicals or processes, where feasible, to reduce the potential consequences of an attack and would allow individuals to sue chemical companies or DHS for noncompliance. The committee rejected several attempts by Republican members to strike the inherently safer technology (IST) requirement and the civil lawsuit language from the legislation. Chemical industry trade groups have urged Congress to make the existing chemical site security program permanent but are concerned about the presence of an IST mandate as well as the bill's citizen suit provision. "We continue to have serious reservations about the proposed legislation," says Bill Allmond, vice president of government relations at the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates. "The IST provision would take the decisions about risk away from workers in chemical facilities and leave them to bureaucrats in Washington."


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