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CFATS Reauthorization—Managing the Security Risks of Dangerous Chemicals

Since its inception eleven years ago, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program has been working with high-risk chemical facilities to reduce the risk of release, theft, diversion or sabotage of their chemical holdings. With the program set to expire in January 2019, we must recognize that the threat of a terrorist attack using chemicals is as real and relevant today as it was when CFATS was first created. Potential adversaries around the world continue to seek out and use in attacks chemicals that are regulated under CFATS. We need look no further than to the continuing threat streams, the intelligence community assessments, and incidents in Belgium, Syria, France, and the United Kingdom, to know that this is not a time to stop addressing the security threat posed by chemicals.

In 2014, Congress granted the program a longer four-year reauthorization, enabling CFATS to significantly streamline and improve its operations, which resulted in programmatic innovations internally and simplified compliance processes externally. This also provided stakeholders the stability they needed to make long-term security investments. As CFATS’ expiration date approaches fast, the Department is working with Congress and other stakeholders to gain a long-term reauthorization for the regulation. 

Due in large part to the stability afforded by passage of the CFATS Act of 2014, much has been accomplished in the past four years and our program continues to make progress. Just as securing our Nation’s highest risk chemicals is a shared responsibility, the collective efforts of our dedicated Federal workforce, industry and other stakeholders, and the leadership of Congress, have matured the CFATS program and positioned it to continue this progress in the coming years.  

CFATS currently covers approximately 3,400 high-risk chemical facilities. Over the last two years, CFATS reassessed risk in all high-risk chemical facilities that submitted information, and approved security plans for most—rolling them into the compliance cycle. The flexibility of the program and the overwhelming bias to work closely with facility owners and operators has ensured that security measures are implemented rapidly—contributing to reducing the risk of chemicals from falling into the wrong hands. The program’s current accomplishments are due, in large part, to the continuous collaboration with stakeholders, and we appreciate the community of practice that has developed across the universe of covered facilities. 

As we go on the road this summer with #DHSChemSecurityTalks in Oakland, Chicago and Philadelphia, DHS looks forward to hosting facility owners and operators interested in regulatory updates and other voluntary resources. These venues are the perfect environment for industry stakeholders who want to share best practices and lessons learned. For more information and to register, please visit the Chemical Sector Regional Events Page

Chemical security is very much a pressing need and must remain a high priority for the nation in view of the threat environment. The CFATS program has positioned the United States as world-leaders in building the culture of security necessary to secure our Nation’s highest-risk chemical facilities. We look forward to working with Congress, industry and other stakeholders to chart a path towards long-term reauthorization of this critical national security program. 

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