Senate Panel Approves Carper-Backed Chemical Security Bill

Legislation Would Direct DHS to Oversee Security Upgrades at U.S. Chemical Facilities

WASHINGTON (June 15, 2006) – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday approved legislation, sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., that would improve security at various chemical plants across the country. The bill, the Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Act of 2005, would grant the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) broad authority to ensure that America’s chemical facilities are better protected from terrorists. The bill is cosponsored by Homeland Security Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Carl Levin, D-Mich. The bill passed the committee on a 10-0 vote, and will now head to the Senate floor. “It’s been almost five years since the tragic events of 9-11, and we still haven’t taken the necessary steps to make sure we have top-notch security at many of our country’s most vulnerable chemical plants. My hope is that we can finally move this legislation through the full Senate this year and see this bill signed into law. We can’t afford to wait any longer,” said Carper. “This bill represents a common-sense approach that will give the federal government and the chemical industry the tools and flexibility they need to improve plant security and reduce the risk of harm if a terrorist attack were to occur.” Put simply, the bill would direct DHS to determine which chemical facilities are the most vulnerable to terrorist attack as well as which ones pose the greatest health risk if attacked. DHS would then establish overall security standards for those facilities. Individual chemical plants would then be required to conduct vulnerability assessments and create their own security and emergency response plans based on those vulnerabilities. Those plans would then be subject to approval by DHS. Facilities that fail to comply with the security standards would be subject to various fines and penalties. In addition, the bill gives DHS the authority to shut down high-risk facilities that haven’t adequately addressed their security vulnerabilities. The legislation also preserves the rights of states to enact stronger security standards than proposed by DHS if they choose.