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Congressman hits DHS chemical security program

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security program that secures the nation's chemical plants against terrorist attacks is a mess, lawmakers learned Wednesday.

The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program is "not in any sort of working order," Rep. Charles W. Dent, Pennsylvania Republican, told Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at an House Appropriations Committee hearing.

Under the program's regulations, chemical facilities deemed at risk of terrorist attack have to submit a Site Security Plan for vetting and approval by Homeland Security.

But by the end of last year, program staff had not approved a single one of the more than 4,000 plans submitted by chemical plants all over the country, Mr. Dent said.

"I share your concern" about the troubled program, Miss Napolitano told him.

Mr. Dent cited a recent memo from Rand Beers, Homeland Security undersecretary for preparedness, which outlined problems in the program. "This level of dysfunction [is] disconcerting at best," Mr. Dent said of the memo.

"We've made some personnel changes [and] administrative changes" to speed up the processing of Site Security Plans, Miss Napolitano told the hearing.

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