Thursday, December 20, 2007

DHS: CFATS - have you accounted for your chemicals?

Many higher education institutions will be preparing their lists of "chemicals of interest" for the Department of Homeland Security early next year. The rule stipulates that listings be delivered 60 days after the release of the final rule meaning lists will have to be provided by January 19th unless you request and receive a 60 day extension. Chemicals range from chlorine to aluminum chloride to propane, meaning that many departments on campus will likely have to report their totals.

If you haven't thought about what the chemicals on your campus could be used for, take a look. Each chemical lists what it would be potentially useful for, providing a convenient overview of what risks your campus might face.

The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards require a variety of things, ranging from risk assessments to reporting of chemical amounts on hand . These apply to many higher education institutions, and responsibility for detailing may have fallen to risk management or facilities staff. If you're an information security staffer, you may want to check with the appropriate department at your school to see how that data is being stored and secured.

Where did all of this come from? It is part of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007, which President Bush signed in October, 2006. Section 550 of the Act gave DHS the authority to enact the rules above. The Act defines the covered entities as "chemical facilities that, in the discretion of the Secretary, present high levels of security risk." More details can be found in the final rule here.

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