CISA updates guidance on essential workforce

April 6, 2020, 11:35AMNuclear News

The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has updated its list of who should be considered an indispensable part of the nation’s critical infrastructure workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding more specificity for the nuclear sector.

The update was released on March 28, one week after CISA issued Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response, Version 1.0. In that initial document, the agency made only three explicit references to nuclear employees, identifying workers “needed for safe and secure operations at nuclear generation,” as well as those involved in critical manufacturing or hazardous materials work at nuclear facilities.

Details:Nuclear sector workers receive more attention in CISA’s Version 2.0. Among the workers now deemed essential to critical infrastructure operation are the following:

Workers supporting the energy sector, regardless of the energy source (including, but not limited to, nuclear, fossil, hydroelectric, or renewable), segment of the system, or infrastructure the worker is involved in, or who are needed to monitor, operate, engineer, and maintain the reliability, safety, environmental health, and physical and cyber security of the energy system.

Workers and security staff involved in nuclear refueling operations.

Workers providing services related to energy sector fuels (including, but not limited to, petroleum [crude oil], natural gas, propane, natural gas liquids, other liquid fuels, nuclear, and coal).

Workers supporting the mining, processing, manufacturing, construction, logistics, transportation, permitting, operation/maintenance, security, waste disposal, and storage activities associated with these resources.

Workers required for the manufacturing of metals (including steel and aluminum), industrial minerals, semiconductors, materials and products needed for medical supply chains, and for supply chains associated with transportation, energy, communications, information technology, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, wood products, commodities used as fuel for power generation facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, processing and reprocessing of solid waste, emergency services, and the defense industrial base.

What they're saying: "This list is intended to help state, local, tribal, and territorial officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security,” said CISA Director Christopher C. Krebs in a memorandum issued with the update. “Decisions informed by this list should also take into consideration additional public health considerations based on the specific COVID-19–related concerns of particular jurisdictions.”

Krebs also stressed that the list is advisory in nature and should not be taken as a federal directive. Also, it “is not intended to be the exclusive list of critical infrastructure sectors, workers, and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response across all jurisdictions,” he said. “Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.”

CISA was established in 2018, following President Trump’s November 16, 2018, signing of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act (NN, Dec. 2018, p. 60). The measure had passed the Senate the previous month, and on November 13, it received unanimous support in the House.

Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste is one of 16 sectors that CISA has termed a critical infrastructure sector. According to the agency, a critical infrastructure sector is one “whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”


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