"House Votes To Strengthen Chem Plant Security"

"The House approved legislation Friday aimed at making chemical and water treatment facilities less vulnerable to terrorist attack.

The three-part legislation would give federal agencies greater power to require chemical and water plants to meet federally set standards, a policy welcomed by environmentalists but opposed by industry groups. It writes into law anti-terrorism rules in effect since 2007 and gives new enforcement teeth to the Department of Homeland Security over chemical facilities.

The bill, passed 230-193, now goes to the Senate, where action on a companion bill this year is uncertain.

A main sticking point was a provision under which the DHS could require some chemical facilities to use certain chemicals or technologies under what are called inherently safer technology, or IST, standards. Backers of the bill said that would apply to the most at-risk facilities; opponents argued it would saddle smaller plants with costly bureaucratic mandates and result in job cuts.

There were also objections to a provision making it easier for citizens to sue companies and the DHS over safety regulation violations and another allowing states to implement rules tougher than the federal standards."

Jim Abrams reports for the Associated Press November 8, 2009.


Source: AP, 11/09/2009