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CONGRESS CONSIDERS CHEMICAL SECURITY LEGISLATION

Legislative efforts to enhance chemical facility security may be revisited by the 109th Congress. Under legislation likely to be proposed in the coming months, drinking water and wastewater systems subject to the Clean Air Act's risk management program (Section 112r) would have to submit vulnerability assessments and site security plans to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for review.

Drinking water systems are pressing to be explicitly exempted from the requirements because they have already submitted comprehensive vulnerability assessments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Bioterrorism Act of 2002.

The history behind the currently debated legislation dates back to October 2001 when Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ) introduced the Chemical Security Act. The Corzine bill mandated the assessments and gave regulatory control to EPA. Later, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced a competing measure that transferred regulatory power to DHS and allowed drinking water utilities and others already regulated to petition for an exemption. However, the Inhofe bill did not provide the option of an exemption for wastewater systems because they are not regulated by the Bioterrorism Act.