Accessing Chemical Facility Information

In this blog, the International Association of Chiefs of Police Arson and Explosives Committee identifies how law enforcement and first responders can access information regarding chemical facilities within their jurisdictions from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and Risk Management Program (RMP).

DHS’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards

The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) regulation was established in 2007 as a means of regulating security at high-risk chemical facilities. High-risk facilities contain Chemicals of Interest (COI) that give rise to one or more security issues to include release of toxic chemicals, theft or diversion of chemicals, and chemicals that can be used for sabotage or contamination. Facilities determined to be high-risk are required to develop and implement Site Security Plans or Alternative Security Programs that meet applicable risk-based performance standards.

Law enforcement or first responders with a need-to know may gain access to CFATS information by contacting cfats@hq.dhs.gov.

CFATS Resource — Infrastructure Protection Gateway

DHS shares certain CFATS data elements with first responders and law enforcement on a geospatial map to help these individuals identify and prioritize potential risks and develop a contingency plan to address those risks. The platform on which this CFATS data is shared is the Infrastructure Protection (IP) Gateway. This permission-based system allows DHS to share CFATS information while appropriately balancing safety and security risks.

CFATS data is available in a For Official Use Only (FOUO) layer and a Chemical-terrorism Vulnerability Information (CVI) layer to authorized Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial officials with an established “need-to-know” as determined by Regional Directors in DHS, National Protection and Programs Directorate, Office of Infrastructure Protection, Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD). FOUO access allows users to view information on any chemical facility that has filed a top screen with the CFATS program (such as name and geospatial information) within their respective jurisdictions, whereas CVI access includes additional information that constitutes CVI, such as a facility’s risk-based tier. Level of authorized access is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

To request access, contact your ISCD Regional Director by calling the Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT) Help Desk at 1-866-323-2957 or emailing csat@dhs.gov.

EPA’s Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was established in 1986 to help communities plan for emergencies involving hazardous substances. EPCRA ensures that local communities and first responders have needed information on potential chemical hazards in order to develop community emergency response plans and respond appropriately to chemical emergencies that may occur. Under EPCRA, companies are required to disclose chemical information that surpasses a specified threshold.

Facilities holding a substance requiring a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Hazard Communication Standard must submit an Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Form, called a “Tier II Report.”

This report must be submitted annually to that facility’s State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and local fire department.

EPA’s Risk Management Program

The Risk Management Program (RMP) was established in 1996 as a means of preventing and mitigating the consequences of chemical accidents. Owners and operators of facilities that manufacture, use, store or otherwise handle any of the RMP’s list of flammable and toxic substances above threshold quantities are required to submit a risk management plan to the EPA. This plan must include information on the facility’s hazard assessment, accident prevention mechanisms, and emergency response measures. Facilities must update the plan every five years (or sooner if major changes occur).

Additional Resources

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