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SOCMA Concerned About IST, Small Business Protections In Chemical Security Bill

Welcomes House Action on Permanent Security Regulation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2009

Media Contact:
Christine Sanchez
Manager, Public Relations & Media
(202) 721-4182
sanchezc@socma.com
 

Washington, DC – The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) commends the House Homeland Security Committee today for taking decisive action towards permanent chemical site security regulations by approving H.R. 2868, the “Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009,” but expressed serious reservations about the bill’s impact on batch chemical manufacturers and small businesses.

The Committee approved a number of amendments to the bill, including two by Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) to mitigate the effects of an inherently safer technology (IST) provision on small businesses. These amendments would require the Homeland Security secretary to report to Congress the effect of an IST mandate on facilities before ordering a process change, and would bar DHS from ordering changes that would require a facility to cut production or staff.

“IST is not a technology. It is a concept, it is a framework,” said Rep. Dent, who worked to strike the IST mandate during the markup. “I do support IST, but I support IST as a framework that guides our facilities to methods that improve business practices and protect their employees. What I cannot support is the government telling these companies, if, when, and how to implement such a framework.”

SOCMA remains concerned about the presence of an IST mandate as well as the bill’s citizen suit provision, which would allow individuals to sue chemical facilities or DHS for noncompliance. SOCMA supports making permanent the original chemical site security regulation, which is in the early stages of implementation.

“We thank the Committee for addressing chemical security and Congressman Dent for his efforts to protect batch chemical manufacturers,” said Bill Allmond, SOCMA Vice President of Government Relations & ChemStewards. “However, we continue to have serious reservations about the proposed legislation, namely its environmental approach to a security issue. The IST provision would take the decisions about risk away from workers in chemical facilities and leave them to bureaucrats in Washington. It would force scientists’ hands and deal a severe economic blow to SOCMA’s member companies. This provision could have disastrous unintended consequences for a number of industries, all while having minimal impact on the actual security of a chemical facility.”

SOCMA plans to continue its bipartisan efforts to pass a permanent site security bill that considers the needs of smaller manufacturers.

Editor’s Note: Photographs are available at the following link:

http://www.socma.com/assets/Image/socma1/fly-in/09/WFI9.jpg
Caption: Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) speaks to over 20 chemical company executives about homeland security at a recent SOCMA event on Capitol Hill.

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SOCMA is the leading trade association, serving the batch, custom and specialty chemical industry since 1921. SOCMA’s nearly 300 members employ more than 100,000 workers across the country and produce 50,000 products valued at $60 billion annually. For more information please visit www.socma.com.

ChemStewards® is SOCMA’s flagship environmental, health, safety and security (EHS&S) continuous performance improvement program.  ChemStewards was created from industry’s commitment to reducing the environmental footprint left by member’s facilities.  Industry created ChemStewards to meet the unique needs of the batch, custom, and specialty chemical industry. As a mandator requirement for SOCMA members engaged in the manufacturing or handling of chemicals, ChemStewards is helping participants reach for superior EHS&S performance.  To learn more visit www.chemstewards.com.


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