CFATS Bill Introduced

Thursday, February 13, 2014 @ 09:02 AM gHale


Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) could gain standalone authorization for two years if a proposed House Homeland Security Committee bill makes it through the legislative process.

In a 2007 DHS appropriations bill, Congress directed the Homeland Security Department to establish a chemical facility counterterrorism security regulation program.

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Since then it extended CFATS authorization incrementally through spending bills. The omnibus spending act (P.L. 113-76), covering all federal agencies for this fiscal year, designated $81 million for CFATS. However, Congress refused to approve new funding bills during the 16-day government shutdown, and the program lost its legal standing.

The authorization bill (H.R. 4007) would make changes to the CFATS program, such as requiring chemical facilities to use a risk assessment methodology that explicitly includes facility vulnerability to a terrorist attack and economic consequences of an attack.

The issue of third-party auditors has gone unresolved since CFATS formed. Meanwhile, DHS has used its own inspectors for conducting inspections and audits. The bill would permit DHS to hire contractors to conduct facility audits and inspections.

The bill would also codify the ability of DHS to assess civil penalties on facility owners or operators who do not comply with CFATS. DHS said it has existing authority to impose fines up to $25,000 per day, per violation, and to issue orders to cease operations.



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