Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) on July 15 introduced a comprehensive legislative package that would help to prevent debilitating terrorist attacks at America’s chemical, drinking water, and wastewater facilities. This legislation requires plants to assess their vulnerability and develop plans to address those vulnerabilities, and requires the highest-risk facilities to put in place Inherently Safer Technology (IST) to increase public and environmental safety. The Secure Water Facilities Act and Secure Chemical Facilities Act would require changes for the highest-risk facilities, preventing undue burdens on small, low-risk facilities while protecting against the greatest threats. Some of the changes that can be implemented at water and chemical plants include reducing the amount of lethal gases stored on-site or minimizing the use of dangerous chlorine gas. The bills would:
· Require the chemical and water facilities to assess their vulnerability to attack, develop a plan to address those vulnerabilities and respond to an emergency, and provide worker-training to carry out the plan.
· Require facilities using dangerous chemicals to evaluate whether the facility could reduce the consequences of an attack by, for example, using a safer chemical or process. The facility must implement those safer measures if it has been classified as one of the highest-risk facilities, implementation of safer measures is feasible, and implementation would not increase risk overall by shifting risk to another location.
· Protect sensitive security information from disclosure, while ensuring information sharing between state and local governments, first-responders, and workers.
· Allow communities to have a role in ensuring local facilities comply with these regulations.
· Authorize grants to help defray the cost of assessing vulnerabilities, developing security and response plans, and implementing safer measures.
The bills are endorsed by a broad coalition of 88 environmental, health, and labor groups. Similar legislation, the Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009, H.R. 2868, was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, 2009.