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Industrial Safety

US chemical plant antiterrorism law extended

CFATS remains in effect until early 2020

by Jeff Johnson, special to C&EN
January 24, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 4


Photo shows a chain-link fence topped by barbed wire with a sign that says, "Private property, no tresspassing".
Credit: Shutterstock

The day before a US antiterrorism statute affecting chemical companies was to expire on Jan. 19, President Donald J. Trump signed a 15-month extension of that law.

The 11-year-old Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) requires industrial facilities that make, use, or store specified quantities of any of more than 300 hazardous chemicals to assess their risks and submit site-security plans to the Department of Homeland Security for review and approval. The facilities must then implement protective measures based on their level of risk.

Approximately 3,500 of these facilities are considered high risk under CFATS. They must devise and implement department-approved, site-specific security plans.

Legislation to extend CFATS stalled last year in debate between Democrats in the House of Representatives and Republicans in the Senate. Led by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), some senators want to make industry-backed changes to CFATS before they endorse a multiyear reauthorization of the law. House Democrats oppose that idea.

For now, lawmakers settled on a 15-month reauthorization extending the current law. This effectively sets a deadline early in 2020 for them to reach a compromise.


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