Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Final Rule that will require thousands of companies that manufacture, use, store or distribute chemicals to provide information to DHS by January 21, 2008.

The Final Rule was published Tuesday, November 20, at 72 Fed. Reg. 65396.

Who does the Final Rule apply to? The Final Rule applies to any facility that "possesses" any of the chemicals listed in Appendix A to the Final Rule at or above the screening threshold quantities.

What does the Final Rule require? The Final Rule imposes requirements in a progressive manner depending on security risk, beginning with an initial screening:

A facility that "possesses" specified chemicals at or above certain thresholds must complete and submit a "Top-Screen" to DHS. A "Top-Screen" is an online program through which a facility provides information to DHS for initial screening.

The "Top-Screen" must be completed and submitted by January 21, 2008.

DHS will use the information provided through "Top-Screen" to determine a facility's security risk.

If DHS determines that a facility presents a high level of security risk, DHS will require the facility to complete and submit a "Security Vulnerability Assessment" within 90 calendar days of written notification from DHS or within the time frame specified in any subsequent Federal Register notice.

DHS will also require the facility to complete and submit a "Site Security Plan" within 120 calendar days of written notification from DHS or within the time frame specified in any subsequent Federal Register notice.

DHS will also impose certain recordkeeping requirements.

A facility that violates the Final Rule may be subject to a civil penalty, an order to cease operations, or both.

The Final Rule can be found at: www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/chemsec_appendixafinalrule.pdf.

DHS has provided further detailed information at its Web site: www.dhs.gov/chemicalsecurity.