WASHINGTON (PRNewswire-USNewswire) — On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2868, the Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009, by a vote of 230-193.
This bill reauthorizes the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) program to implement and enforce the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), which are currently set to expire in October 2010, and improves these standards in a number of ways. It also requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish parallel security programs for drinking water and wastewater facilities.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and lead sponsor of the legislation, released the following statement upon passage: "In the wake of the September 11th attacks, security experts immediately identified the threat of an attack on a chemical facility as one of the greatest security vulnerabilities facing the Nation," said Thompson.
"After 4 years of hard work, this Congress finally got the opportunity to consider and pass this landmark homeland security bill. Passage of this legislation demonstrates the progress we make with a transparent process that is open to diverse viewpoints," Thompson stated.
"We can now ensure that this vital industry, and the population that lives around these facilities, are secure," said Thompson.
- Authorizes reasonable, risk-based security standards for chemical security.
- Closes a major security gap identified by both the Bush and Obama Administrations by establishing a security program for drinking water and waster water facilities.
- Requires all tiered facilities to assess "methods to reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack." Plants that voluntarily perform these assessments, which are sometimes called "IST" assessments, often find that good security equals good business.
- Strengthens CFATS by adding enforcement tools, protecting the rights of whistleblowers, and enhancing training security.
SOURCE Committee on Homeland Security