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Critical Infrastructure: Chemical Security

Cover of Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism StandardsThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to strengthen security at the Nation’s high-risk chemical facilities through the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program.

Update (November 2017): On November 11, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (the Academies) released the report on “ Reducing the Threat of Improvised Explosive Device Attacks by Restricting Access to Explosive Precursor Chemicals.” The intent of the report is to assist the Department in its efforts to research possible paths forward to safeguard the Nation’s people, infrastructure, and economy from terrorist use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

CFATS Makes Our Nation and Communities More Secure

The CFATS program identifies and regulates high-risk chemical facilities to ensure they have security measures in place to reduce the risks associated with certain chemicals of interest (COI).

Authorized by Congress in 2007, the program uses a dynamic multi-tiered risk assessment process to identify high-risk chemical facilities. Facilities identified as high-risk are assigned a tier and are required to meet and maintain performance-based security standards appropriate to the facilities and the risks they pose. DHS chemical security inspectors work in all 50 states to help ensure facilities have security measures in place to meet CFATS requirements.

On December 18, 2014, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014 (“the CFATS Act of 2014”), was signed into law. The Act recodified and reauthorized the CFATS program for four years.

Securing High-Risk Chemical Facilities

CFATS is the first DHS regulatory program focused specifically on security at high-risk chemical facilities. The Department determines a facility’s risk profile by requiring facilities in possession of threshold quantities and concentrations of chemicals of interest (COI) to complete a risk assessment, known as a Top-Screen.

Facilities determined to be high-risk must complete and submit a Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) and a Site Security Plan (SSP) or an Alternative Security Program that meets applicable risk-based performance standards. DHS then reviews and approves the security plans.

Revised Surveys and Risk Methodology

In 2016, DHS began to roll out an enhanced risk-assessment methodology and the Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT) 2.0 surveys. DHS is notifying chemical facilities of interest about the requirement to resubmit a Top-Screen using CSAT 2.0. The new submission is then analyzed using the enhanced risk-assessment methodology.

Facilities may choose to proactively resubmit a Top-Screen prior to receiving the individual notification from DHS. Chemical facilities that have not previously submitted a Top-Screen, but have come into possession of reportable amounts of COI, must submit the new Top-Screen in CSAT 2.0 within 60 days of possessing the COI.

UPDATE: In April 2017, DHS began issuing tiering determination letters to facilities that were assessed using the enhanced methodology. A presentation that outlines tiering trends is available on the CFATS Knowledge Center.

For more information, see the CFATS Tiering Methodology webpage. To learn more about the CSAT 2.0 updates to the SVA and the SSP, please visit the CSAT SSP Revisions webpage.

Priority Precursor Chemicals Study

On November 11, 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (the Academies) released the report on “Reducing the Threat of Improvised Explosive Device Attacks by Restricting Access to Explosive Precursor Chemicals.” The study focuses on researching possible paths forward to safeguard the Nation’s people, infrastructure, and economy from terrorist use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Under the oversight of the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology at the Academies, an ad hoc committee identified and prioritized a list of chemicals that have been used or are susceptible for use in IEDs, either in the U.S. or internationally; analyzed how the priority chemicals move through commercial supply chains; assessed existing control measures for the priority chemicals; and suggested controls that might be effective for a voluntary or regulatory strategy.

The committee consisted of experts from the academic, industrial, and national lab sectors. Expertise on the committee includes chemistry, energetic materials, commercial supply chain operations, security, and law enforcement.

For more information regarding the committee, please visit the Academies’ website. For all questions and inquiries about this study, please contact CFATS@hq.dhs.gov.

Additional Resources

CFATS Tip Line

Update: Download a printer-friendly flyer: Report a CFATS Violation.

Report a possible security concern involving the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) regulation.

CFATS Chemical Facility Security Tip Line: 1-877-394-4347 (1-877-FYI 4 DHS); CFATSTips@hq.dhs.gov

You may report concerns on voicemail anonymously. If you want a return call, leave your name and number. Calls to this tip line involve the CFATS regulation at your facility or another facility.

If a potential security incident has already occurred, call the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center at 202-282-9201.

Call 9-1-1 or contact your local FBI field office if the incident is a security emergency or terrorist incident.

Key Documents

Last Published Date: November 15, 2017

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