Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS)

In our business, we recognize that chemicals are vital to our nation’s economy. When used properly, chemicals contribute to a safer and cleaner environment. However, chemicals come with inherent risks, especially if the proper safeguards are not in place. For example, many of our business customers use CAIROX® potassium permanganate, an inorganic chemical compound, in the drinking water, wastewater, and industrial industries. Various chemicals (e.g. hydrogen peroxide and potassium permanganate) considered on the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) list, can be used for malicious purposes if it falls into the wrong hands. It is thus essential for our industry to find the right balance between our business goals and the necessary security measures that keep our communities and our nation safe.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through its CFATS program, regulates high-risk chemical facilities that are in possession of certain quantities of Appendix A chemicals of interest (COIs) to prevent their misuse in potential terrorist attacks.

How does this relate to your business?  CAIROX is one of the regulated COIs under CFATS.

Facilities that have COIs at or above the Screening Threshold Quantities (STQ) and otherwise meet the criteria in the regulation, but don’t fall under a CFATS exclusion, must report their holdings to DHS. Facility exemptions include: facilities regulated pursuant to the Maritime Transportation Safety Act (MTSA), public water systems, water treatment facilities, facilities owned and operated by the Department of Defense or Energy, and facilities subject to regulation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The STQ for potassium permanganate is 400 pounds. STQ levels for other COIs can be found here. There is an exclusion from CFATS for COIs used in public water systems (as defined in the Safe Water Drinking Act) and water treatment facilities (as defined in the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.) More information on what facilities are covered by CFATS is available at https://www.dhs.gov/cfats-covered-chemical-facilities.

How does CFATS work?

CFATS requires all chemical facilities of interest that have COIs at or above the STQ to submit a survey called a Top-Screen (TS) using the Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT). DHS regulates approximately 2,700 high-risk chemical facilities, which is less than 10% of the population that has submitted Top-Screen surveys. 

Facilities that are determined to be high-risk are ranked under four Tiers, with Tier 1 reflecting the highest risk. In October 2016, CFATS rolled out a new and improved CSAT 2.0 survey and an enhanced Tiering Methodology. All facilities that have chemicals of interest to meet the STQ and otherwise meet the criteria in the regulation --- whether or not they have previously submitted a Top-Screen --- are required to submit/re-submit a new Top-Screen using CSAT 2.0. If you have submitted a Top-Screen in the past, expect to be contacted by DHS about resubmitting.

DHS determines whether a chemical facility is high-risk under CFATS based on TS results. If DHS designates a chemical facility as high-risk, the facility is required to submit a Site Security Plan (SSP) or an Alternative Security Plan (ASP) that meets the anti-terrorism security standards set out under CFATS. These security plans include measures ranging from perimeter security to cyber security and training and are tailored to a facility’s unique circumstances and tier. Once DHS approves the security plan, the facility is routinely inspected to ensure that security measures remain in place.

If chemical facilities fail to comply with the requirements of CFATS, they may be subject to civil monetary penalties or an order to cease operations. The Department of Homeland Security is ready to provide compliance assistance at any time during the process.  For further information please contact cfats@hq.dhs.gov or visit the website: Critical Infrastructure - Chemical Security.

Information for this newsletter article was provided by the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD) Office of Public Affairs.

Additional Resources Available: 

CAIROX® Potassium Permanganate CFATS Information

Visit the CFATS Knowledge Center

CSAT 2.0 Portal User Manual  

Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism: Tiering Methodology Fact Sheet

Check your account status  

Contact the CFATS Help Desk by calling 866-323-2957