SOCMA Testimony to House Panel Calls for the Extension of Chemical Security Standards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2009

For More Information:
Christine Sanchez
Manager, Public Relations and Media
(202) 721-4182
sanchezc@socma.com  


Washington, DC – The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), in testimony submitted today to the House Homeland Security Committee, strongly urged lawmakers to support legislation making the existing chemical security standards permanent before they expire in October.

In testimony submitted to a hearing on the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, SOCMA said it supports H. R. 2477, the “Chemical Facility Security Authorization Act,” which extends authorization for the current CFATS program through October 1, 2012. The three-year extension would guarantee DHS’s current authority to regulate chemical manufacturing facilities by utilizing the existing rigorous, security-based regulations that protect American workers and communities.

H. R. 2477 would also ensure that DHS has the time to fully implement the CFATS program across all four high-risk tiers of facilities covered by the standards. By contrast, SOCMA warned that provisions of H.R. 2868, the “Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009,” which was introduced this week, would disrupt existing, effective DHS practices by including a new mandate for “inherently safer technology” (IST) and a misguided citizen suit provision capable of exposing chemical facilities to increased risk.

SOCMA argued that IST would fundamentally change the way chemical site security is achieved within the federal regulatory system.  It would remove decisions about risk from those at facilities who manage it every day to a government bureaucrat in Washington who may be under qualified to make such decisions. Another change caused by IST would be toward a hazard-based approach, derived from environmental laws like the European Union’s REACH regulation, which is entirely unlike the risk-based approach being implemented today to protect facilities against attack.  

Supporters of IST claim a chemical is “safer” anytime the suggested alternative may have less off-site impact in the case of a worst-case scenario release. This is a very narrow, if not naïve, view of how the hazards in a chemical manufacturing process should be assessed.

As an example of an unintended, negative consequence of IST, SOCMA explained the possible impact to generic and prescription drugs if manufacturers of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) were required to substitute a “safer” chemical in their processes. Introducing an alternative to an API process would certainly have impacts on the supply and possibly the effectiveness of the consumer drugs for which they are intended, as it takes years before an API is ready for Food and Drug Administration approval and subsequent manufacture.

For more information about SOCMA’s position on IST, please visit www.socma.com/ist.

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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 mandatory requirement for active SOCMA  members engaged in the manufacturing or handling of batch, custom and specialty chemicals, ChemStewards is helping participants reach for superior EHS&S performance.  To learn more visit www.chemstewards.com.