Last week, the Department of Homeland Security and the Chemical Sector Coordinating Council co-hosted the 9th Annual Chemical Sector Security Summit in Alexandria, Va. More than 500 government and industry stakeholders attended sessions that focused on strengthening chemical security and resilience across the country. The annual summit brought together industry experts, owners, operators, and government officials to share best practices, lessons learned, and identify ways to enable risk-informed decision-making.
Highlights from this year’s summit included a keynote address from Amy Pope, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy Assistant to the President at the National Security Council, where she discussed the vital role of the private sector in national and homeland security issues, both as owners and operators of critical infrastructure and as a fundamental part of the Nation’s economy.
The dynamic threat environment was a focus of day two, with presenters from the DHS Office of Intelligence & Analysis and the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) briefing participants on homegrown violent extremism, domestic terrorism, and cyber threats to industrial control systems. These briefings set the stage for the 2015 Chemical Sector Security Plan, which underscores the ongoing collaboration between government and industry to ensure chemical facilities are secure and resilient. The plan features voluntary risk management actions, information sharing activities, international engagement, and training and exercises. These initiatives and preparedness efforts describe actionable measures to manage risks and mitigate disruptions.
With the multi-year authorization established by the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act (CFATS Act of 2014), many of this year’s sessions featured discussions on the current success and continued maturation of the CFATS program, including a CFATS update by David Wulf, Director of the Infrastructure Compliance Security Division, which leads the implementation of the program. CFATS is an important part of our nation’s counterterrorism efforts as we work with our industry stakeholders to keep dangerous chemicals out of the hands of those who wish to do us harm. Since the CFATS program was created, DHS has actively engaged with industry to identify and work with high-risk chemical facilities to ensure they have security measures in place to reduce the risks associated with the possession of chemicals of interest. While there is still work to be done, DHS has approved site security plans for nearly two-thirds of the highest-risk regulated facilities.
We continue to take critical steps in bringing together public and private stakeholders with a vested interest in reducing the risks associated with the handling and storage of chemicals. A panel of representatives from the National Security Council, DHS, Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, highlighted this shared commitment and discussed progress against the Executive Order on Chemical Facility Safety and Security, focusing on how Federal partners have worked to strengthen community planning and preparedness; enhance federal coordination; improve data management; modernize policies and regulations; and incorporate stakeholder feedback and develop best practices.
This year's Summit once again brought government and industry together to share a diverse array of voluntary programs and resources in a way that I believe will lead to further progress and a safer nation. I want to thank all involved for a valuable and productive summit, and I call on government, industry, and individuals to continue to collaborate and innovate as we celebrate successes and confront new challenges.