2007 to See Interim Federal Regulations on Chemical Plant Security

January 16, 2007
by BRETT SLENSKY
Client Alert Newsletter Forecast 2007

On December 28, 2006, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for federal security regulation at the nation's high-risk chemical facilities. Public comments were due February 7, with final interim rules expected by April effective for up to three years pending comprehensive legislation. Under the proposal, chemical facilities fitting certain risk profiles would complete a risk assessment to determine risk level and tier ranking. High-risk facilities would complete vulnerability assessments and submit security plans meeting DHS performance standards. The proposal allows alternate security plans for a facility, including an industry association program, starting on December 28, 2008. The proposal also includes contentious language preempting conflicting state and local laws. Aspects yet to be determined include defining high level of security risk and criteria for differentiating between risk tiers. Although not included, provisions requiring inherently safer technologies sparked much congressional debate and could come up again for action.