ARA Testifies At Hearing On West Fertilizer, Problem Of Unidentified Chemical Facilities

Paul Derig, Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Manager with J.R. Simplot, testified on behalf of the Agricultural Retailers Association at a House Subcommittee hearing August 1 titled “West Fertilizer, Off the Grid: The Problem of Unidentified Chemical Facilities.”

Witnesses at the hearing presented their testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies.

ARA appreciates the additional agricultural industry representation provided by Donnie Dippel, President of
the Texas Ag Industries Association, who also testified at the hearing.

Paul Derig brought a unique perspective to the hearing as an EHS Manager responsible for oversight of regulatory programs for J.R. Simplot’s agricultural retail operations and his over 30 years of past experience in fertilizer handling and security. This past experience also includes his work as a public responder, firefighter and National Fire Academy Instructor.

“Because of the many roles that I have been able to play, I understand the importance of safety and security in the public and private sectors,” Derig stated in his testimony.

Derig made the following key points in his testimony on behalf of ARA and the ag retail industry:

1. ResponsibleAg is a new member-led performance management system that will establish foundational EHS&S practices with a third-party inspection program. More information on this program is available at www.aradc.org.

2. The testimony from Derig also emphasized the need for permanent CFATS or Long-term Reauthorization of the CFATS program needed for Regulatory Certainty.

3. On behalf of ARA, Derig also recommended the following enhancements to both the CFATS program and the Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer Registration Program:

A. A reevaluation of the Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer Registration Program. “In 2005, ARA testified in support of the Secure Handling of Ammonium Nitrate Act to seek traceability regulations for ammonium nitrate, and this legislation was signed into law in 2007,” said Derig. “However, it has now been nearly six years since this law was enacted and DHS has not implemented a final AN rule.”

B. To target unidentified chemical facilities through intergovernmental and industry cooperation. “The CFATS program is not perfect, but it’s broken; at this stage it could benefit from stricter timelines, measurable and accountable metrics and tangible action-based outcomes,” added Derig.

C. The Executive Order issued by President Obama today clearly shows that DHS should reevaluate its “Partnership” model to develop better cooperation between the public and private sector. “Too often, industry is only invited to participate in the last stage of the decision-making process,” explained Derig.

D. Raise “Partnership” Outreach with Industry. Derig sited ARA’s past industry outreach efforts coordinated with other organizations, including the FBI, EPA, DOD, the National Fire Protection Association and the First Responders Organization.

E. Reassess CFATS Small Facility Compliance Burdens. “Working together, we can help prevent tragedies like West from happening again. Our employees live and work in communities small and large across the country, and nothing is more important than protecting our workers, first responders and their neighbors,” stated Derig. “We are an accountable and responsible industry committed to the safety of the communities in which we live and operate.”

Watch video from the hearing and download full statements from all participants. Paul Derig’s complete testimony and other documents ARA submitted to the subcommittee for the hearing are available on the ARA Website.

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