House Panel Approves Chemical Plant Security Measure: CQ Homeland Security

A House Energy and Commerce panel approved legislation Wednesday that would change chemical facility security regulations to require the potential use of safer technologies.

The measure would authorize the Homeland Security Department (DHS) to conduct vulnerability assessments and set security standards for chemical facilities to address potential terrorist threats. A 2007 law (PL 109-295) temporarily authorized the department to issue regulations for high-risk chemical plants and to shut down plants for non-compliance.

The bill also would permit the department to require companies to use safety methods to reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack, such as substituting chemicals or changing processes or storage facilities. The department could only require the changes if they would significantly reduce the risk of death and are technically and economically feasible for the facility.