WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee and author of the amendment to boost chemical security, released the following statement on the passage of the Chemical Security bill:

"Reducing the impact of a terrorist attack on high risk chemical plants that could kill thousands of Americans is one of the most important responsibilities of this committee.  It's time that we force high-risk chemical facilities to use every option available to reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack on the communities surrounding them."

A summary of the amendment follows:

The use of Inherently Safer Technologies (IST) addresses the security of chemical facilities in a fundamental way: by eliminating, reducing or altering the use of dangerous chemicals on a site, the site itself will be less likely to be a terrorist target. For example, a site that stores a dangerous chemical that could kill thousands by forming a toxic cloud on release is an enticing target for terrorists. If the plant can change to a less dangerous chemical, or smaller amounts or a less hazardous form of the chemical, the site ceases to become a target and the risk to the surrounding population is dramatically reduced.

The Markey amendment would place mandatory IST assessment and implementation requirements on high risk facilities. High-risk facilities would be required to prepare assessments of the feasibility of IST for review by the Secretary of Homeland Security.  If a high-risk chemical facility submits an assessment that concludes that it is unable to implement IST, the Secretary is empowered to review the assessment and can then disagree with the chemical company if it finds that the facility’s change to a safer alternative would: (1) significantly reduce the risk of death, injury, or serious adverse effects to human health, or the environment resulting from a terrorist release; (2) can feasibly be incorporated into the operation of the facility; or (3) would not impair the ability of the owner or operator of the facility to continue its business.

If the Secretary makes this determination, the facility has the right to appeal the decision to a panel consisting of members of the chemical industry, DHS, other federal agencies, and outside security experts. The panel can side with the company, or it can issue recommendations to the company that the Secretary can enforce by issuing orders directing the facility to comply.

August 3, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein