Friday, February 5, 2010

Senators Introduce CFATS Extension Bill

U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) on Thursday introduced legislation that would, among other things, extend the current authorization for the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) until October 4, 2015. According to Collins and the bill's three cosponsors (Senators Pryor (D-AR), Landrieu (D-LA), and Voinovich (R-OH), S. 2996, the Continuing Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Security Act of 2010, the purpose of the bill is to provide "the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with sufficient time to fully implement the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards program."

In addition to extending CFATS, the bill proposes two additional programs that would enhance chemical facility security: the Chemical Security Training Program and the Chemical Security Exercise Program. Both would be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The training program would, among other things, include training and education for personnel that live and work in neighborhoods surrounding high-risk chemical facilities. The exercise program would establish a method to provide for testing and evaluating the capabilities of stakeholders to "prevent, prepare for, mitigate against, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism."

In November, the House of Representatives passed a similar bill. H.R. 2868 includes provisions for chemical facility security, drinking water facility security, and security at waste water treatment works. The bill provides for comprehensive chemical security provisions at all three types of facilities while also addressing the unique security requirements for the water facilities. S. 2996 and H.R. 2868 would have to be reconciled before either version could become law.

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