Washington, D.C.-The Committee on Environment and Public Works today approved S. 994, the Chemical Facilities Security Act of 2003, which mandates that chemical operators craft vulnerability assessments and site security plans, and grants authority to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to regulate those plans and oversee security at the nation’s chemical plants.

Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) crafted compromise legislation with Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.). The compromise includes a requirement that chemical operators consider using alternative approaches in their processes, and that they submit their vulnerability assessments and security plans to DHS. It also gives DHS the ability to order facilities to take specific actions when faced with imminent terrorist threats.

“I think the bill we have before us today represents a balanced, common sense compromise that provides a strong, mandatory federal role governing security at chemical facilities,” Chairman Inhofe said. “Homeland security is a top priority for the committee, and this bill takes yet another step in our efforts to reduce the risk of terrorist acts against America.”

“Based on discussions I had with members of the committee during the markup, there remain several areas open for improvement before this bill reaches the Senate floor,” Inhofe said. “As I said during the mark up, I am eager to work in bipartisan fashion on the issues of concern expressed by members of the committee.”

The committee also approved several amendments. They include:

Allard (#1): Requires the secretary of DHS to establish a small business security grant program for agricultural retailers and producers (including seafood).

Jeffords (#6): Clarifies that security measures in site security plans must significantly reduce the vulnerability of chemical sources.

Jeffords (#8, as modified): Amendment includes the installation of secondary containment as a security measure that may be included in site security plans.

Jeffords (#9): Requires that 5-year reviews of the adequacy of the vulnerability assessments and site security plans must be submitted to DHS.

Jeffords (#10): Clarifies that the consideration of alternative approaches to prevent or reduce the threat or consequences of a terrorist release must consider a variety of potential scenarios.

Jeffords (#13): Clarifies that DHS can respond to a full range of emergency threats.

Boxer (#1): Clarifies that nothing in the act affects the handling, treatment or disclosure of information from chemical sources pursuant to any other law.

Boxer (#3): To require that the Secretary be notified of significant changes made to vulnerability assessments. Requires the owner or operator to provide a description of any significant changes within 90 days.

Boxer (#4, as modified): Ensures that existing procedures, protocols, and standards that may be used in lieu of vulnerability assessments and site security plans required herein are substantially equivalent to what is required under the act.

Carper (#3): Adds a requirement that DHS provide a notice to an entity that submits alternative protocols for review, if it deems other standards/protocols are substantially equivalent.

Carper (#5): Makes promulgation of regulations under the act by the secretary of DHS mandatory.

Clinton (#5): Clarifies that for purposes of review and enforcement by the Secretary, vulnerability assessments and site security plans developed in accordance with protocols endorsed by the Secretary are to be judged against those protocols rather than the relevant regulations developed under the act.

The EPW Committee today also approved legislation authorizing appropriations for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

A copy of Chairman Inhofe’s opening statement is attached.