It's All About CFATS
Terrorism is a potent threat, especially at petrochemical facilities
- By Ryan Loughin
- Dec 01, 2009
Without a doubt, the threat of terrorism, both
foreign and domestic, has been the biggest
game changer in how we look at and implement
physical and logical security. Nowhere is
that change being more acutely felt now than
in the petrochemical industry. The need to secure plants and facilities
that produce, process and transport potentially volatile substances
Congress and the Department of Homeland Security require these
facilities to undergo a series of assessments and implement security
measures based on the type of chemicals produced, their quantity
and their proximity to population centers.
Setting the Standard
According to DHS, the Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Standard
was created in 2006 to establish security standards for high-risk facilities.
This not only includes petrochemical plants -- it encompasses any
industry or manufacturing facility using these chemicals, including
chemical manufacturing, storage and distribution, energy and utilities,
agriculture and food, paints and coatings, explosives, mining,
electronics, plastics and healthcare.
The risk for each facility is based on a list of more than 300 chemicals
of interest. Facilities were asked to submit information to DHS
on their use and storage of COIs. Based on this information, DHS
identified more than 6,000 facilities and ranked them on a scale of
one through four, with those falling in the first tier considered to be
the most dangerous.
All Tier One and some Tier Two facilities have been notified of
their ranking. The rest of Tier Two, Three and Four will be receiving
notification over the coming months. Once a facility has been notified
of its ranking, it has 120 days to submit a site-security plan. The letter
sent to each facility by DHS also will outline specific issues that must
be covered in the SSP. The guide for developing a plan is covered in a
set of 18 published risk-based performance standards.
RBPSs cover a variety of areas, including perimeter security, securing
set assets, screening, access control and monitoring. Every facility
must submit an SSP online and describe how it will meet the
requirement of each RBPS, including a description of equipment,
processes and procedures.
An SSP requires that all facilities carefully consider their needs
and vulnerabilities. Fortunately, security technology has seen advancements
that can help facilities become safer and more secure.
Petrochemical plants and other facilities using COIs must carefully
select security partners to help them implement their SSP.
While there are severe fines for not participating or meeting DHS
requirements, the benefits of quality security go beyond avoiding
Quality security systems and plans can improve many aspects of
a business or industry, including everything from employee morale
to bottom line profitability, by creating better business processes and
A security integrator or partner needs to be aware of the latest
technologies available to meet the specific security needs of chemical
plants. There are a number of areas that need to be integrated into the
overall security plan for these types of facilities.
Restricting area perimeter, the first RBPS, is one of the most
important elements in petrochemical facility security. It is the first
line of defense, and fortunately there are a lot of new and evolving
Fencing is a logical first step in securing a perimeter, and there
are options for each situation and level of security needed. Fenced
perimeters have even gone high tech, using fiber optics to detect and
locate potential intruders. Fiber optics can be buried in the ground,
creating an invisible perimeter, or can be attached to conventional or
For more critical areas, there are high-security steel fences that are rated to stop a 15,000-pound truck traveling up to 50 miles per hour.
These fences hold a K-rating, which is a measurement of how much
kinetic energy or speed plus weight they can resist.
Video also is an essential tool in perimeter detection and security.
Video analytics can detect certain movement or behaviors and send
an alarm. For example, if an object crosses a predefined perimeter, it
will send an alarm notification and record the event. In most cases,
these systems are sophisticated enough to distinguish between a person,
a vehicle and an animal.
Thermal video also is becoming more affordable. Thermal imaging,
coupled with effective analytics software, can accomplish nighttime
detection while saving money by not requiring traditional lighting. In
some cases, a facility may require maritime and ground radar that detect
all moving objects within a large targeted area. These solutions
also have saved customers money compared to other technologies.
In addition to locking down the perimeter, critical access points at a
chemical facility need to be carefully secured and controlled. This can
be accomplished with integrated security systems that include concrete
and K-rated barriers in combination with access cards and readers,
and vendor and visitor verification systems. Temporary badging
systems screen visitors prior to entry and correctly identify them as
they move throughout a facility. There also is technology available
that can screen each new badge holder for a criminal background and
citizenship before the card is activated.
Integrators need to have a solid background with the latest access
cards, readers and biometrics. High-security areas should use a combination
of access technologies. Fingerprint and hand geometry or
retinal scans can be used to effectively limit access to areas that need
the highest levels of security.
The security system should provide a level of safety not only for the
surrounding community but also for the employees and staff at the facility. Making sure that all employees are safe in an emergency is
essential. Muster station technology works hand-in-hand with access
control and badging. In the event of an emergency, these systems help
account for everyone in the facility. Mass notification or warning systems
can give clear instructions on the nature of the emergency, how
to safely exit the facility and where to meet so no one is left behind.
There also are interactive notification systems that allow a company
to know in real time where their employees are and verify that they
have reached a safe zone. These interactive systems work with cell
phones, e-mail and text messaging. Emergency notification systems
also can alert the surrounding community of first responders.
Integrated Central Command Center
All of the elements of the security system for a chemical facility or
plant need to be integrated and centralized in one location. A security
integrator needs to know how to bring all of the pieces together
and make them work as one system. Each component provides vital
information and, in combination, they help to effectively manage and
secure a facility on a day-to-day basis. The command center should
be the heart of the security and safety operation and should provide a
central location for monitoring all of the video, sensors, card readers
and analytic data collected by the system.
For an integrator, putting together this type of center means working
with facility management to develop a customized layout that fits
the location and its functions. It takes experience and knowledge of
the technology, software and equipment available.
Look for a security integrator who will examine a facility’s security
goals and challenges and offer cost-effective solutions based on his or
her knowledge and background in security and, specifically, chemical
facility security. A design-build approach gives the integrator the
freedom to put together the best and most efficient system possible,
which usually saves the end user money and time.
A chemical facility’s security plan will be reviewed by DHS and
may be given a deadline for completion. The department will monitor
CFATS facilities and conduct regular on-site inspections to ensure
approved plans are implemented.
The original legislation gave DHS three years to develop and
implement the program for high-risk chemical facilities. CFATS was
set to expire in October. Congress has extended the standard for one
year, giving it time to work through specifics on a permanent bill.
It also has been speculated that the large number of coastal
petrochemical facilities now covered by the Maritime Transportation
Security Act, which is overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard, will
be placed under CFATS in the year to come. Municipal water and
water-treatment facilities also would fall under CFATS in the version
of the bill that was recently passed in the House and has now
been sent to the Senate.
The new standards will take time to implement and maintain, but
they will give the industries involved a solid set of guidelines to follow
to make sure they are as safe as possible and the surrounding
public is better protected against possible
terrorist attacks and other events.
The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard (CFATS) is intended to establish a baseline level of security for facilities considered to pose high risk to the general population in the event of a terrorist attack.