Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. Fights to Protect Americans Living Near Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks

Feb 3, 2012 Issues: Foreign Affairs and Defense

More than 100 million Americans live in the danger zone of a chemical disaster

Washington DC - Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. asked House Republicans Friday to join him to strengthen legislation that would protect the 100 million Americans living near a chemical facility from the disastrous consequences of a terrorist attack. Numerous federal agencies and other experts agree that the nation’s chemical facilities are attractive targets for terrorist attacks, but the current regulations protecting these facilities from attack known as the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) are vague and inadequate.

A Department of Homeland Security memo shows the serious implementation challenges with the current CFATS program, most notably that the department has received 4,200 site security plans but has yet to approve a single one. Also, in many circumstances the personnel hired to act as site inspectors are inappropriate for this particular security role.

“In New Jersey we have both a large number of chemical facilities and a high population density, so the consequences of insufficient security are dire,” commented Pallone.

The CFATS program was established in 2007 to give Congress time to enact comprehensive legislation that provides a much stronger framework to protect Americans from a deadly terrorist attack. In May, 2011 the Republican Majority decided not to address the shortfalls with the CFATS program, and just moved a simple extension of the current, ineffective law.

“It’s unfortunate that the Republican leadership has not taken a more proactive approach to securing these facilities from terrorist attacks,” said Pallone. “I will continue to push for a more comprehensive security program to ensure the safety of my constituents living in the shadow of these chemical facilities,” he added.