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CFATS: Re-Tiering Implementation Update for High-Risk Chemical Facilities

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program began implementation of the Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT) 2.0 and the enhanced tiering methodology nearly one year ago. In the previous blog, “CFATS: What You Need to Know About Re-Tiering,” we discussed the new methodology and the basic information chemical facilities of interest need to have in order to comply with reporting requirements. This blog will focus on an implementation update.

Last year in October, DHS began notifying about 27,000 chemical facilities, which previously submitted Top-Screens, that they had to be reevaluated for risk. The Department has since notified approximately 19,000 of these facilities with about 8,000 notifications remaining. DHS continues to receive positive feedback on the streamlined and user-friendly CSAT 2.0 Top-Screen. 

Once DHS receives the Top-Screens, chemical facilities deemed to be high-risk are placed into four tiers, with Tier 1 representing the highest risk. Through the enhanced tiering methodology, 3,359 facilities have been tiered so far. An additional 15,558 facilities have been determined not to be high-risk following review of their CSAT 2.0 Top-Screen. 

After being tiered, facilities may or may not be required to submit updated Security Vulnerability Assessments/Site Security Plans (SVA/SSP) or Alternative Security Programs (ASP). In making this determination, facilities fall primarily into one of three categories:

  1. Facilities that tier for the first time are required to submit SVA/SSPs within 120 days of receiving their tier.

  2. Facilities with current approved SSP/ASPs and that did not have changes to their tier, security concern, or Chemicals of Interest (COI), do not need to take any further action. These facilities should continue to implement their already approved SSP/ASPs in order to comply with the regulation.

  3. Facilities that receive a change in tier, identify a new security concern, or add a COI, may be required to submit an updated SSP/ASP depending on the facility’s circumstances. 

As facilities engage with DHS to discuss options following re-tiering, facilities should seek to understand the detection, delay and response measures in the approved plan and whether or not they apply to and address the change in tiering. DHS is committed to working with facilities during Compliance Inspections (CI), and through technical consultations to help determine if SSP/ASP edits are required or not. DHS has so far received 491 CSAT 2.0 SVA/SSPs or ASPs.

Tier 1 and Tier 2 facilities have to comply with an additional security requirement: the Personnel Surety Program (PSP), screening for terrorist ties. In December 2015, DHS published a notice in the Federal Register to inform CFATS Tier 1 and Tier 2 high-risk chemical facilities of the implementation of the CFATS Personnel Surety Program. DHS began notifying facilities to participate in this program in January 2016. Currently, DHS has approved 42 facilities for PSP and initiated the process with 160 additional facilities. 

DHS is also working with facilities that have changed in tier to appropriately handle the PSP. Facilities have the opportunity to choose from several options when planning to implement PSP, to include two options which involve submitting personally identifiable information to the Department. The overwhelming majority are selecting Option 1, which entails submitting the names of affected individuals for direct vetting. Some facilities are selecting a combination of options. For example, a facility may select Option 1 for all employees and Option 4 (Visual Verification) for unescorted drivers. Some facilities are opting for a corporate approach in implementing the program, which means they identify all individuals at all Tier 1 and Tier 2 company facilities as affected. In this case, the bulk upload feature for PSP is an efficient way to submit names and has been well received by facilities as it is easy to navigate. 

DHS is committed to remaining transparent and keeping stakeholders informed. For more information, see the Tiering Methodology webpage and the CFATS Personnel Surety Program webpage. For questions, please email CFATS@hq.dhs.gov.


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