Senate committee votes to extend CFATS

Legislation that would extend the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program for three years was approved this week by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

CFATS establishes security standards for high-risk chemical facilities that cover a wide range of vulnerabilities including perimeter security, access control, theft, internal sabotage, and cyber security.

According to a statement, the legislation, which mirrors a bill unanimously approved by the committee last year includes: A three-year extension of the current CFATS program; the development of voluntary exercise and training programs to improve collaboration with the private sector and state and local communities under the CFATS program; the creation of a voluntary technical assistance program under the existing CFATS structure that would allow DHS, at the request of the owners/operators of covered chemical facilities, to provide recommendations or assistance to covered facilities to aid in compliance with the CFATS program or to reduce the risk of consequences of a terrorist attack on the covered facility; and, the creation of a chemical facility best practices clearinghouse and private sector advisory board at DHS to aid in the implementation of CFATs and the voluntary technical assistance program.

"Simply put, the program works and should be extended and I am pleased the committee agreed," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in the statement. "Chemical facilities are tempting targets for terrorists. The Department of Homeland Security has done a good job developing a comprehensive chemical security program. It has yielded a successful collaborative, risk-based security framework - providing a model for other security-related programs."