The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued its final "Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards," as well as the final list of "chemicals of interest," that will require many facilities to submit information to DHS regarding chemicals on site. The wide-ranging rule applies to more than 70,000 facilities in the United States. The rule requires a number of steps, including an initial electronic submission of screening information, followed by the possible requirements to submit a "vulnerability assessment" and a "site security plan."

Why is this rule in place?

DHS issued this rule to help strengthen the security of U.S. facilities by identifying those with the most dangerous chemicals, and requiring 7,000 of the most vulnerable facilities to assess and implement security measures to prevent terror-related activity.

Who does the rule cover?

Any facility that manufactured, used, stored or distributed a chemical exceeding the establish DHS threshold must register with DHS. The list of more than 300 regulated chemicals includes many hazardous chemicals, as well as chemicals that are widely used in commerce such as ammonia, chlorine, propane, aluminum powder and ethylene. The threshold over which you must report varies from one-quarter pound to 60,000 pounds, and is specified on the list. Facilities covered by the Maritime Transportation Security Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as facilities operated by the Department of Defense or Department of Energy, are exempt.

What is required? What do I have to do?

Facilities with chemical levels that exceed the threshold must register for the electronic chemical security assessment tool (CSAT) and answer a variety of questions relating to the facility and the chemicals on site. DHS estimates that it will take each facility about 30 hours to complete this questionnaire.

What will DHS do with all of this information?

Based on the reports submitted, DHS will place facilities into one of four tiers, with the different tiers having varying additional assessment and reporting requirements. Facilities in the higher ─ tier 1 and tier 2 ─ categories will be required to conduct a site vulnerability assessment and to prepare a site security plan.

When is the deadline?

The deadline for submission of the information in the electronic CSAT system is January 19, 2008. Companies should assess the impact of these regulations on their facilities and take approach action.