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Security protocol tightens at certain propane facilities

February 11, 2020 By    
Photo: themotioncloud/iStock/Getty Images

More propane facilities will likely have to complete personnel screening following a decision by the DHS to tighten security. Photo: themotioncloud/iStock/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is ramping up security measures for propane and other chemical facilities subject to the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program.

Whether a large company or single individual, facilities that possess 60,000 pounds or more of propane must report to the DHS. Propane is considered a security risk in these amounts because, if intentionally released, the vapor cloud can cause an explosion that would impact the facility and surrounding areas. Failure to report is subject to civil penalties.

In July, the DHS extended its requirements for personnel screening at high-risk facilities subject to the CFATS program. The agency is now implementing the Personnel Surety Program (PSP) at Tier 3 and Tier 4 facilities under the CFATS program. Prior to this decision, only Tier 1 and Tier 2 facilities were required to complete personnel security screening through PSP.

The PSP requires that a tiered facility vet facility personnel and unescorted visitors who have or are seeking access to restricted areas or critical assets at the tiered facility. Background checks must be performed to:

  • Verify and validate identity.
  • Check criminal history.
  • Verify and validate legal authorization to work.
  • Identify people with terrorist ties.

Steps to compliance

To begin the process of complying with PSP, DHS will notify each Tier 3 and Tier 4 facility via a message in the Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT) program and a follow-up email about the CSAT message. A facility cannot comply with PSP until contacted by DHS. DHS will mail the facility a written notice if the facility does not access the CSAT program within 15 days of the notification.

To comply with the PSP, tiered facilities have four options for security screenings. The tiered facility may select one option or a combination.

Option 1: Direct vetting: Submit certain information about affected individuals through a PSP application located in CSAT that DHS will use to vet those individuals.

Option 2: Use of vetting conducted under other DHS programs: Submit current security credentials held by “affected individuals” through the PSP application in CSAT, such as CDL hazardous material endorsements.

Option 3: Electronic verification of Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC): Facilities can use electronic readers, like TWIC readers, to verify the validity of existing credentials.

Option 4: Visual verification: Visually verify federal security credentials of affected individuals against any federal screening program that periodically vets individuals against the Terrorist Screening Database.

Facilities should be aware that there are limitations to a visual inspection of credentials. Facilities should consider other means of verifying an individual’s identity or address these limitations in its security plan.

For tips and other information about implementing the PSP program, see dhs.gov/cisa/cfats-personnel-surety-program.

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