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Ref: Chemical industry given homeland security guidelines

Bloomberg

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U.S. Chemical Companies Face Government Security Inspections
By Jeff Bliss

Dec. 22 (Bloomberg) -- DuPont Co., Dow Chemical Co. and other chemical companies will have to submit to government inspections of their plants' security under proposed regulations to be issued today by the U.S. Homeland Security Department, a department official said.

Under the new rules, chemical plants considered to be high risk must assess their vulnerabilities and provide security plans to the government, said the department official, who requested anonymity. Manufacturers could be fined as much as $25,000 a day or, in the worst cases, closed down for non- compliance.

In September Congress passed a measure that gave limited authority to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to regulate security at the nation's 15,000 chemical plants. Democrats such as Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts said the legislation didn't go far enough and that the department should require specific measures rather than letting the companies develop their own.

Chemical plant security has been a priority of Chertoff's because the release of chlorine gas or ammonia used in fertilizer could result in massive casualties.

Anthony Farina, a spokesman for Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont, didn't immediately comment on the proposed guidelines. John Musser, a spokesman for Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical, didn't immediately respond to a phone call placed after hours yesterday.

Standards

Under the proposed rules, the department would create standards for better deterring the theft of chemicals, controlling access, securing the perimeters and guarding against sabotage from employees, the official said.

The guidelines create a process for companies to appeal government disapproval of their security plans and come a week after the Homeland Security Department announced proposed regulations for securing rail shipments of chemicals.

The public will have until Feb. 7 to comment on the proposed guidelines, the official said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Bliss in Washington jbliss@bloomberg.net .

Last Updated: December 22, 2006 00:13 EST


Copyright 2006 Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved.

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