• Under industry pressure, DHS drops chemical plant employee screening proposal

    Security experts agree that short of a nuclear attack on a U.S. city, the most casualty-heavy disaster would occur as a result of an accident in, or a terrorist attack on, a chemical plant which would release a cloud of toxic fumes; there are about 15,000 plants in the United States which produce, process, use, or store volatile and toxic chemicals; more than 300 of the these plants are so close to large population centers, that a chemical release in any one of them would cause more than 50,000 casualties; DHS wanted to have employees in these plants screened for potential ties terrorism, but the chemical industry objected, saying this would be too costly; last Thursday DHS pulled the proposal

  • Measuring DHS effectiveness monitoring chemical plant safety standards

    The events of 9/11 triggered a national re-examination of the security of facilities that use or store hazardous chemicals in quantities which, in the event of a terrorist attack, could put large numbers of Americans at risk of serious injury or death; the GAO issued a report on how DHS ensures compliance with chemical facilities security standards

  • Kratos receives $10 million contract to secure petrochemical site

    San Diego-based Kratos Defense & Security Solutions said it has recently received a multi-million dollar contract award to deploy a specialized security system at a petrochemical-related critical infrastructure location

  • Industry: current chemical safety standards sufficient, should be extended

    DHS’s management of the U.S. chemical plant safety has come under criticism lately, but he Society of Chemical Manufactures and Affiliates (SOCMA) said it strongly supports U.S. chemical security standards; the industry associated noted that since the program’s 2007 launch, more than 2,000 facilities have changed processes or inventories such that they are no longer considered high-risk under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS)

  • Critics: current chemical safety standards insufficient, should not be extended

    Critics of the current chemical plant safety standards say these standard are insufficient and should be extended; critics cite EPA data to highlight the fact that current safety standards leave more than 110 million Americans at risk from high-risk chemical plants

  • What U.S. can learn from EU chemicals law

    U.S. industry and environmental groups agree that the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 needs to be modernized better to protect public health and the environment; there is no consensus, however, on what the reform should look like; researchers suggest that the United States may want to look at how the EU regulates chemicals

  • Lawmakers blast DHS for problems with chemical facility security program

    At a recent Congressional hearing, lawmakers blasted DHS officials for their failure to follow through with a program designed to secure chemical facilities in the United States

  • GAO: critical infrastructure operators need more coherent regulations

    A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the bulk of U.S. critical infrastructure is inadequately protected as operators lack a coherent set of guidelines

  • Chemical industry hit by “Nitro” cyberattacks

    In a string of cyberattacks, hackers have stolen critical formulas and plans from major chemical companies; the latest attacks, dubbed “Nitro,” were uncovered by Symanetec, which reported the hackers aims were corporate espionage rather than a terrorist attempt to procure chemicals

  • College chemical labs unsafe, report finds

    A recently released report found that college laboratories with their dangerous mix of volatile chemicals pose a danger to students and employees

  • Calif. Allows warrantless searches of cell phones

    California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill which aimed to prohibit California police from conducting warrantless searches of the cell phones of people under arrest

  • $90 million contracts for developing anthrax vaccine and antitoxin

    HHS awards two companies contracts with potential value of $90 million for the advanced development of a novel next-generation anthrax vaccine and a new type of anthrax antitoxin

  • Dow fined $2.5 million for violations at Michigan chem plant

    Due to environmental and safety violations at its chemical plant in Midland, Michigan, Dow Chemical will have to pay $2.5 million in fines; federal inspectors found that the chemical plant violated air, water, and waste regulations between 2005 and 2007

  • Senate committee passes chemical security bill

    This week, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs voted 8-2 for Senator Susan Collins’s bill (S. 473) to renew the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), which is designed to regulate the chemical industry to ensure that they are keeping their facilities safe from terrorist attack; a similar bill has already been approved by a House committee; so far DHS has reviewed 39,000 chemical facilities in the United States and has determined that more than 4,755 are high risk and need to develop detailed security plans

  • Sharp divisions over chemical plant security measure

    Those who opposed the original Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) continue to oppose it — and for the very same reasons: they argue it does not go far enough to assure the security of chemical plants in the United States; they point out the versions of the bill approved by House and Senate committees prevent DHS from requiring specific security measures; fail to require safer and more secure chemical processes; exempts thousands of potentially high risk chemical and port facilities, including approximately 2,400 water treatment facilities and 400-600 port facilities, including 125 of 150 U.S. refineries; and prevents plant employees from participating in assessing vulnerabilities and developing security plans