SOCMA cautions against hasty changes to chemical site security standards

Siegfried (USA) Inc., a member of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA), testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security on the Committee's proposed chemical site security legislation, specifically provisions related to inherently safer technology (IST). SOCMA played an active role in the previous Congress to enact meaningful and practical legislation to regulate security at the nation's chemical plants...

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 27, 2008 -- Siegfried (USA) Inc., a member of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA), testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security on the Committee's proposed chemical site security legislation, specifically provisions related to inherently safer technology (IST). Representing Siegfried (USA) Inc. was David C. Pulham, Ph.D., the Director of Compliance at Siegfried (USA) Inc.'s Pennsville, New Jersey, facility.

SOCMA played an active role in the previous Congress to enact meaningful and practical legislation to regulate security at the nation's chemical plants. After successfully doing so, we have worked closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and our members to develop comprehensive site security standards under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act. SOCMA members have invested tremendously to safeguard their facilities and their products. Managing environmental, health, safety and security risks is a daily responsibility for our members enhanced by their adherence to SOCMA's ChemStewards® program.

SOCMA cautions the House Homeland Security Committee on adopting new legislation that would significantly differ from the current rules, as the Committee's discussion draft does. As DHS Assistant Secretary Robert Stephan stated at yesterday's hearing, the Department is still in the process of implementing the standards under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act and with limited resources. We urge Congress to be prudent and wait to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing set of standards before hastily designing additional requirements that may disrupt them.

SOCMA applauds the Committee's intention to make these standards permanent and we have no objection to select portions of the discussion draft; however, we are concerned with substantive portions, particularly the draft's IST provisions. No matter how simple IST concepts appear on paper, they are quite complicated in practice, as Dr. Pulham testified yesterday. In some cases, a mandated change under the auspices of security "IST," could delay by two years or more the availability of consumer products that the public relies on every day, such as pharmaceuticals. Furthermore, many SOCMA members are highly regulated under existing environmental and process safety standards that incorporate principles of IST. We urge Congress to spend more time thoroughly studying the IST provisions being proposed while immediately ensuring that DHS receives the necessary funds to carry out the current authority Congress gave it in 2005 under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act.

SOCMA is the leading trade association representing the specialty-batch and custom chemical industry since 1921.

ChemStewards® is SOCMA's flagship environmental, health, safety and security (EHS&S) continuous performance improvement program.

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