Department of Homeland Security Roundtable

On October 27th, 2015, Eric Smith, Vice President and Technical Director of IIAR, attended a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) roundtable discussion and listening session intended to solicit the public’s views and recommendations on how the current Appendix A, Chemicals of Interest (COI), of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program might be improved.

As part of the DHS CFATS program, Chemicals of Interest (COI), including anhydrous ammonia over the 10,000 lb threshold, are required to file a Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT) Top-Screen Survey Application developed by the DHS to help identify high-risk chemical facilities which are subject to the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards and to determine preliminary tier placements for those facilities. The term tier refers to the risk level associated with a facility covered under the CFATS program. Tier 1 is the highest risk level while Tier 4 would be the lowest.

If a facility possesses a COI that is on the DHS Chemicals of Interest list at or above the Screening Threshold Quantity (STQ) for any security issue including chemicals that pose a significant risk to human life or health if released, stolen or diverted, or sabotaged and contaminated, the facility must complete and submit a Top-Screen to DHS. If DHS makes a preliminary determination that a facility is high-risk, DHS will further require the facility to complete a Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA).

The roundtable discussion and public listening session was held in Arlington, VA. Eric Smith was in attendance to provide requested feedback and to re-iterate the stance that IIAR has taken on the applicability of the Top-Screen process in regard to closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems.

As stated in a coalition letter, submitted to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on October 17th, 2014 by Lowell Randel, Director of Government Affairs for IIAR, the stance that IIAR has taken, along with several other interested organizations, is that we strongly believe that facilities utilizing closed-circuit systems with anhydrous ammonia should not be subject to filing a Top-Screen unless another threshold quantity COI is present.

Even though IIAR members who operate facilities which include closed-circuit (loop) refrigeration systems with anhydrous ammonia at or above the STQ as their primary refrigerant are required to file a Top-Screen with DHS, we are not aware of any of our members that have been placed in a tier because of the risk posed by ammonia. Rather, these facilities are placed in a tier due to other threshold chemicals of interest also being present at the facility.

Furthermore, the current requirement for facilities with over 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia used for closed-circuit refrigeration systems to file a Top-Screen under the CFATS program is duplicative and unnecessary. The issue of toxicity is thoroughly covered by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Risk Management Program (RMP) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations. RMP and PSM require facilities to develop detailed plans that address the risks of a toxic release of ammonia used for closed-circuit refrigeration systems. IIAR believes that through proper coordination and collaboration with other related U.S. government agencies, DHS will have sufficient information about facilities with threshold quantities of anhydrous ammonia, thus removing the need for these facilities to file Top-Screens solely because they have a threshold quantity of anhydrous ammonia that is used for a closed-circuit refrigeration system.

IIAR does not see a need for businesses to incur additional compliance burdens when facilities that use anhydrous ammonia for closed-circuit refrigeration systems are already covered under RMP and PSM. The addition of CFATS compliance adds unnecessary compliance costs for these businesses with no tangible benefit to security.

IIAR continues to advocate on behalf of its members in front of concerned government agencies.  IIAR also continues to create a positive ongoing dialogue with these government agencies to create a better working environment for all.

You may find more information on CFATS Program Here:  Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards

DHS CFATS Coalition Letter October 2014.pdf Lowell Randel's letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stating IIAR's stance on Top-Screen evaluations for closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration facilities.