Washington, D.C.-Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) announced today that they will introduce the Chemical Facilities Security Act of 2003 on Monday, May 5.
Among other things, the legislation requires chemical facilities to complete vulnerability assessments and site security plans and imposes stiff penalties for companies that fail to comply with the law.
“I am pleased that this bill, which is the product of extensive discussions with security experts, has the support of the Bush Administration,” Inhofe said. “I look forward to working with Sen. Miller and my colleagues in the Senate to pass this legislation and strengthen homeland security.”
“As the General Accounting Office noted, while the chemical industry has taken laudable, voluntary steps to protect their plants, a mandatory federal role is needed to enhance and strengthen chemical security,” Sen. Inhofe said. “As a top priority of this committee, this legislation empowers the Department of Homeland Security to require and enforce tough security standards at the nation's chemical facilities.
“Let me be very clear,” Inhofe continued. “No one gets a free pass under this bill, no one is exempt. Chemical facilities must abide by the legislation's security requirements and any rules, procedures or standards developed by the Department of Homeland Security.”
Senator Miller said, “Our bill represents the common-sense approach to securing our nation's chemical plants from terrorism. It says that chemical companies must comply and that they will be heavily fined for failing to do so. And it gives the power to create and enforce these new regulations to the right department - our new Department of Homeland Security.”
The Chemical Facilities Security Act of 2003 will:
· Impose MANDATORY requirements on the chemical industry. According to guidelines established in the bill, companies will be required to conduct vulnerability assessments and security plans.
· Authorize the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reject those plans if they are deemed inadequate to protect plants against terrorism. The Secretary can require plant owners and operators to revise their plans and assessments to ensure adequate safety and protection.
· Allow other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, to provide DHS with technical support.
· Require DHS to perform routine oversight of facilities to ensure compliance with the law.
· For those that fail to comply, the Secretary of DHS can petition the courts for injunctive relief, which in practice could temporarily shut down a facility. The Secretary also can impose civil penalties of $50,000 a day for each day a violation occurs and administrative penalties of up to $250,000.
Bill Text (.pdf format)