Department of Homeland Security Fact Sheet - Securing Our Nation's Chemical Facilities

Chemical security is not solely a federal responsibility; it is a shared responsibility among federal, state and local governments, and also with the private sector. Government and industry have to work together to implement the best possible measures to strengthen the security of America's chemical facilities, while not undercutting an important part of the nation's economy.

Overall Goals

Risk-based Approach to Protecting the Chemical Sector:
  • Different sites, facilities and chemicals pose different levels of risk and therefore require different kinds and levels of protection.
  • Ensure high-risk facilities are protected and that owners and operators across the sector are doing their part.
A Comprehensive Approach:
  • Secure not only chemical sites and facilities, but also chemicals in transit. In other words, secure the end points of the system as well as the links in between.
  • Target the highest risk chemicals and work with industry to demonstrably reduce risk without breaking the system. For example, last December, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put forward a proposed regulation to reduce the standstill time for rail cars carrying toxic inhalation hazards (TIH) around our major cities. This regulation ensures that the relatively small number of cars that carry TIH chemicals on a given day are not left unattended, can be efficiently tracked, and take the safest, most economically practicable route.
Working Together in a Spirit of True Partnership:
  • Share knowledge, information, and intelligence about threats and vulnerabilities across the sector.
  • Develop a common understanding of risk, define roles and responsibilities, and establish clear metrics to measure progress against national priorities.
  • Ensure accountability so that the hard work done to protect this sector is not undermined by a small number of facilities not acting responsibly.
Build on Substantial Investments Made by the Chemical Industry Itself:
  • Many facilities have taken significant steps to conduct security assessments and develop security plans.
  • So as not to duplicate those efforts, DHS will look at what a plant or facility has already done in terms of security measures and protocols.
Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards

In April 2007, DHS released an interim final rule establishing comprehensive federal security regulations for high-risk chemical facilities. As of June 8th the Department now has the ability to enforce that regulation, which, for the first time, sets national standards for chemical facility security.

  • DHS will determine which plants and facilities pose the greatest risk across the sector. Risk is defined by evaluating a combination of threat, vulnerability, and consequence.
  • DHS will consider the types and quantities of chemicals at a particular facility, the vulnerabilities that could be exploited to do harm to the facility or the surrounding community, and the potential consequences to human life and the nation's economy.
  • Plants and facilities across the country can now register online and complete a Chemical Security Assessment or "Top Screen," which is an on-line assessment that indicates whether the facility should be covered by the regulation.
  • In April, DHS released a proposed list of chemicals as part of the interim final rule. The Department expects to release Appendix A in its final format in the near future.
  • From the date that the finalized list of chemicals of concern and related threshold quantities is published in the Federal Register, affected facilities will have 60 days to provide information for the Department's risk-assessment process.
  • Once the final list of chemicals and threshold quantities is published, chemical facilities will have to review the list and determine if they meet the requirements for submitting information to the Top Screen.
  • Top Screen is now available for on-line access. Any facility may begin the process at any time.
  • Upon completion of the Top Screen, if the facility is deemed "high risk," they must prepare and submit vulnerability assessments and site security plans. DHS will evaluate those plans for quality and compliance with the established performance standards.
  • DHS strives to create flexibility so that the individual plant or facility can determine the most appropriate solution provided it meets the Department's performance standards.
  • Performance standards being considered include: how long and how effectively the facility secures the perimeter and the facility itself; how they control access; how they deter and prevent theft of potentially dangerous chemicals; and how they prevent internal sabotage.
  • DHS will provide technical assistance to help plants submit an acceptable plan.
  • The Department will use site inspections and audits to ensure that security measures will, in fact, be implemented.
  • Facilities that fail to meet the Department's performance standards could face penalties of up to $25,000 for each day a violation occurs, or they could be ordered to halt operations until security is brought up to a level DHS deems appropriate.