Meeting the Mandates

Department of Homeland Security’s recent regulations aim to make high-risk chemical sites terrorist-proof

The Department of Homeland Security’s publication of chemical facilities anti-terrorism (CFAT) standards has many chemical and petrochemical companies scrambling to develop security plans for their high-risk facilities. The continued post-9/11 threat of terrorism dictates urgency, and the DHS put teeth in the CFAT rules.

As a result, companies that have not already begun CFAT’s four-phase compliancy process outlined in the Federal Register (published in April) face fines of $25,000 per day and possible closure.

Playing Catch-up A few industry leaders are already implementing compliant security measures, according to Michael Turner, manager of Securitas Systems’ Chemical Solutions Group.

“One of our clients—a major U.S. petrochemical company—began working with us last year, and we had their comprehensive electronic security site plan designed by the time the preliminary CFAT law came out,” Turner said. He also said site security has typically been lax in the chemical industry, so companies are being compelled to play a rapid game of catch-up. “Terrorism has always been there, but it was never a significant regulatory focus until after 9/11,” Turner said. “One of our most important responsibilities to our customers is designing custom solutions to help them mitigate risk in today’s environment. The biggest risk with chemical processing is the threat of a terrorist act. And safety is always a critical issue in this industry. So, a lot of the equipment we have installed can be used to record accidental injury, as well as meet all the necessary security requirements.”

Fully integrated security electronic systems are on a continuing growth trajectory in the chemical industry.

“This petrochemical company turned to us two years ago, searching for a security services provider capable of designing, engineering, installing and maintaining a multi-million-dollar enterprise-wide turnkey project,” Turner said.

The job description included overseeing all contractors, performing all construction— including the installation of a new fiber-optic backbone—and supplying and installing a site perimeter fence and intrusion detection system to be integrated with the building and gate access control and surveillance systems throughout the facility.

Complex Challenges “Before contacting us, our client was having trouble locating a security systems integrator who could handle a project that size,” Turner said. “But large-scale, complex projects involving varied operating environments are one of our specialties. It’s essential, for example, to secure all access to contractors and employees alike and, at the same time, keep the logistics flow unhampered.”

Phase 1 of the project at the client’s company headquarters—including both plant and administrative buildings—began in December 2006. Access control went live in August, and the company is currently working on Phase 2, the video surveillance system.

“Federal agencies that visited the site and reviewed the plan were very impressed,” Turner said. “A major component of the first phase, the mustering option built into the access control design, is especially important. In an emergency, it provides quick electronic accounting for personnel as they check into designated areas of the plant.

“Also, the wireless handheld readers deployed in Phase 1 allow visual vehicle inspections at the gates while simultaneously badging each person going into the facility in the vehicle, not just the driver. So the security personnel know every person who is in the facility at all times.”

The Perfect Fit Securitas Systems takes a long-term view and a highly customized approach to a project of this nature.

“We’re involved throughout—from concept, design, implementation, commissioning and service,” Turner said. “We anticipate relationships that last decades with clients and have planned their systems design accordingly. We’ll be putting maintenance, service and program management in place for them next. Program management enables better coordination within internal departments, as they will have one dedicated Securitas Systems contact for all system needs, whether adding new technology or IT or maintenance concerns. The dedicated service provider works with them and helps them plan new system phases as they grow and as their needs change.”

Because the client is committed to growing organically, Securitas Systems built a flexible system from the start to accommodate anticipated expansion. The access control system’s open architecture and scalability allow for integration with future security systems and related products, such as human resource management or time and attendance programs.

“We’ll be the point of contact for all security-related issues,” Turner said. “We act as consultant, as well as service provider—listening to their concerns and business needs as they evolve and develop. Our ability to listen and design a turnkey solution tailored to their business processes and our unique program management system were what earned us this partnership. We manage all the security aspects, from the operational to the tactical to the strategic.”

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