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Senate Proposals To Enhance Chemical Facility Security

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Publication Date: June 2006

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL33447

Topic: Manufacturing and industry (Chemical industries)


The 109th Congress is considering how to address the risks and consequences of potential terrorist attacks on chemical facilities. This report compares and analyzes two bills introduced in the Senate that would address these issues, S. 2145 and S. 2486. For background information on chemical facility security and summaries of other legislative proposals, see CRS Report RL31530, Chemical Facility Security. For more information about alternative legislative approaches, see CRS Report RL33043, Legislative Approaches to Chemical Facility Security.

S. 2145 would direct the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to promulgate rules for designating chemical facilities that would be subject to regulation, assigning these facilities to various risk-based tiers and establishing performance-based security standards for each tier. Designated facilities would be selected from among those required to complete risk management plans under the Clean Air Act (CAA), Section 112(r)(7), as well as facilities handling more than specified quantities of ammonium nitrate or any other substance designated by the Secretary. Designated facilities would be required to submit to DHS vulnerability assessments, security plans, and emergency response plans for terrorist incidents. Plans would have to be "sufficient to deter, to the maximum extent practicable, a terrorist incident or a substantial threat of such an incident," and "include security measures to mitigate the consequences of a terrorist incident." To oversee implementation, S. 2145 establishes regional DHS security offices and area security committees and plans. DHS and other federal, state, and local agencies would be prohibited from releasing to the public vulnerability assessments, site security plans, security addenda to emergency response plans, area security plans, or materials developed or produced exclusively in preparation for assessments or plans.

S. 2486 addresses security and safety at "stationary sources," which are defined by reference to the CAA Section 112(r)(2), and other facilities holding substances of concern that the DHS Secretary, in consultation with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), designates as "high priority." For all stationary sources, S. 2486 would establish a general duty to identify hazards; ensure safe facility design, operation, and maintenance (including use of use of inherently safer technology [IST]); and reduce the consequences of a criminal release. Employees would assist owners or operators in these tasks. Each high-priority facility would be required to submit to DHS a vulnerability assessment, hazard assessment, and prevention, preparedness, and response plan. S. 2486 would exempt DHS from public disclosure requirements of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for "all documents provided to the DHS Secretary under this Act, and all information that describes a specific vulnerability or stationary source derived from those documents." S. 2486 establishes Employees' Safety and Security Committees and mandates employee training with respect to the Act's requirements.

This report highlights key similarities and differences of these bills and summarizes selected key provisions in Table 1. The report will be updated as warranted by congressional activity.