The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) were designed to provide guidance for any site involved in manufacturing, storing and/or transporting chemicals. Notwithstanding recent challenges within the organization tasked with implementing the CFATS program, the underlying concepts and principles as outlined in the Risk-Based Performance Standards still have merit. In fact, the CFATS performance standards actually echo what even non-regulated industries would agree is sound and effective security practice.

CFATS does not prescribe specific technologies; instead, the rules specify that facilities meet 18 Risk-Based Performance Standards covering a range of vulnerabilities such as perimeter security, access control, theft, internal sabotage and cyber security. By emphasizing “standards,” CFATS leaves open the question of how an end user can attain the prescribed level of security. For facilities seeking answers to achieving CFATS compliance, technology plays an important role, supplying tools to detect intrusions at the perimeter and internally around chemicals of interest (COIs). To this end, intelligent video systems can enhance perimeter protection and also help to avert internal or external theft or sabotage, as specified by CFATS performance standards.

CFATS reflects security best practices and strategies that are already embraced by many chemical facilities and other critical infrastructure sites for practical reasons. For organizations that need to align themselves with these standards, technology tools including intelligent video and thermal cameras can help them meet and achieve best practices.

  • Early detection.CFATS standards call for creating sufficient time between detection of an attack and possible danger to site assets. Early and accurate detection is essential to achieve a high level of vigilance. Numerous technologies can provide early detection of a perimeter security breach, but only intelligent cameras provide the visual evidence of a breach without need for additional verification systems, saving valuable response time.
  • Dependability of alerts. Intelligent thermal video, using cameras with on-board processing power, enables accurate detection of the presence of unauthorized persons anywhere across site perimeters and outdoor areas, during bright sunlight or in complete darkness. Smart cameras with sufficient processing can provide accurate detection over large areas, regardless of wind, weather or the movement of small animals, trees or blowing trash. Better accuracy ensures no nuisance or false alarms, providing a system that operators can depend upon for their security.
  • Details on location and type of alarm. Achieving security awareness depends on knowing the precise location and nature of an intrusion. Intelligent video cameras with GPS-based analytics can determine the size, speed and bearing of detected objects according to their precise location. GPS can also be used to steer pan-tilt-zoom cameras to zoom in and follow detected objects for close-up identification once an intrusion has been detected.
  • Clear thermal images 24 hours a day.  In light or darkness and despite a range of environmental challenges, clear thermal images of events unfolding along the perimeter of a chemical facility are an essential component of overall security and can contribute to CFATS compliance. Thermal cameras can provide clear views of perimeters and large outdoor areas despite variable lighting conditions. Recent developments in image processing related to thermal imaging increase the accuracy and image quality of thermal cameras, while bringing costs dramatically lower.
  • Protection of perimeter and internal assets. Compliance with CFATS requires securing and monitoring restricted areas where COIs are manufactured and stored. Intelligent video is a good tool to protect internal assets, where physical or man-made boundaries are unlikely to exist. Adding infrastructure around chemical storage tanks would be costly and likely impede the flow of business operations. Intelligent video can be used to create a surveillance “buffer zone” around areas of special concern to control access based on time of day or other criteria, mitigating possible sabotage or theft from insiders.
  • Assurance of ongoing system operation. CFATS requires that systems monitor their health and provide alerts should they cease to function, a capability built into many smart video solutions.
  • Affordability.While CFATS does not directly address system costs, the reality of business operations makes doing so a requirement. Using long-range thermal cameras that cover greater distances reduces the number of cameras needed, along with infrastructure and associated costs. Project costs can be dramatically lowered, in some cases by as much as 50 percent, even as security performance increases.

A key to effective implementation of CFATS is to identify real-world solutions that enable chemical facilities to achieve the 18 Risk-Based Standards. This is a challenge for end-users tasked with meeting the standards, for integrators who will likely specify and install the technology to achieve the standards, and for supplier companies who develop the various systems and components. Intelligent video and thermal cameras can help to meet these challenges.