WASHINGTON -- The average chicken farmer does not have enough chemicals to make his farm a terrorist target, but many fertilizer wholesalers and paper mills do - and they will have to tell the government about it as part of new anti-terrorism measures.
On Friday, the Homeland Security Department plans to release a final list of chemicals that businesses must report to keep dangerous materials out of the hands of terrorists. It is part of new authority Congress gave the department to keep an eye on places where hazardous chemicals are kept.
An original list of 344 chemicals - some with specific weight thresholds - was proposed in April and caused an uproar among businesses that had assumed they would be exempt from such terror-related reporting laws. If a facility has a chemical on the department's list, it has to fill out an online form that the Homeland Security Department will use to decide whether the chemical poses enough of a terrorist risk that the facility's security measures should be regulated.
Many chicken farms, for example, keep more than 7,500 pounds (3,400 kilograms) of propane, the threshold on the original list. But a new reporting threshold of 60,000 pounds (27,200 kilograms) for propane exempts them.
Colleges and universities that keep chemicals in many of their laboratories were spun up over the proposed list as well. The final list will only affect universities that carry large amounts of a certain chemical and small amounts of chemicals that could be used as weapons.
However, just because a business is required to fill out the government's online questionnaire does not necessarily mean that they'll be regulated by the government, said a Homeland Security official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, because the final list had not yet been published.
"Once we assess that they have large amounts of chemicals of consequence, then what we will do is work with them on a plan so that they can secure a facility," the official said.