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Safety

Progress In Securing Chemical Facilities

by Glenn Hess
August 6, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 32

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun taking steps to address challenges in implementing federal security regulations for high-risk chemical facilities. But it’s too soon to say whether those actions will result in a more effective Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, according to the Government Accountability Office. In a report (GAO-12-515T) released last month, the congressional watchdog agency notes that DHS has established a 94-item action plan to address deficiencies in CFATS, a program created in 2007 to enhance security at the nation’s chemical plants. An internal DHS review leaked to the news media in late December found that a series of management and personnel problems had largely undermined the program (C&EN, Jan. 9, page 6). GAO says DHS has met some goals, such as improving communication between management and staff and clarifying priorities. Other items in the plan, such as developing facility inspection processes, will take a longer term effort. DHS “appears to be heading in the right direction, but it is too early to tell if individual items are having their desired effect,” GAO concludes.

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