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Publication date: Jan. 10, 2007

DHS LAUNCHES BOLD NEW MOVES TO HIDE GOVERNMENT CHEMICAL SAFETY LAPSES

Racing to head off media disclosures of massive safety and security lapses at chemical plants and in hazmat transportation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in December swept much of the information up in a regulatory effort to keep it in the dark.

Two things happened.

First, DHS hastily issued a proposed rule Dec. 15, 2006, purporting to tighten security around shipments of hazardous materials via rail. The proposed rule, Congressional critics said, would not do enough to protect densely populated urban areas from release of toxic gases like chlorine, which is carried in strings of unattended tanker cars which are often left unguarded at sidings. Many cities want such shipments rerouted around cities but DHS and the railroads have refused. The proposed rule would make secret many kinds of information most visible to the naked eye in any railyard not only about rail hazmat vulnerabilities, but also about failures of the companies and the DHS to correct them. The deadline for comments on the proposal is February 20, 2007.

Second, DHS on Dec. 22, 2006, proposed regulations implementing a chemical security bill passed by Congress in 2006. The notice of proposed rulemaking was published in the Dec. 28 Federal Register. The proposed regulations would prohibit disclosure of vulnerability analyses and security plans for chemical facilities, along with a wide range of other information including practically anything the Homeland Security Secretary wanted to stamp secret. The deadline for comments on that proposal is February 7, 2007.


Last revised January 22, 2013

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