Weekly Compliance Digest – EPA Risk Management Program
Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs Under the Clean Air Act, Section 112(r)(7)
What is it?
The EPA announced on February 25, 2016 proposals to revise its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations to improve chemical process safety, assist local emergency authorities in planning for and responding to accidents, and improve public awareness of chemical hazards at regulated sources.
The Accidental Release Prevention regulations under section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), also known as the EPA RMP regulations, require covered facilities to develop and implement a risk management program. The EPA shares RMP information with state and local officials to help them plan for and prevent chemical accidents and releases.
The proposed revisions to the EPA’s RMP regulations are a result of President Obama’s Executive Order (EO) 13650 on improving chemical facility safety and security. EO 13650 aims to modernize chemical safety and security regulations, guidance and policies, in order to prevent chemical accidents, such as the explosion in West, Texas on April 17, 2013.
Who is affected?
Currently, 12,542 facilities that have filed RMPs with the EPA are potentially affected by the proposed rule changes. These facilities include petroleum refineries, large chemical manufacturers, water and wastewater treatment systems, chemical and petroleum wholesalers and terminals, food manufacturers, packing plants, cold storage facilities with ammonia refrigeration systems, agricultural chemical distributors, midstream gas plants, and a limited number of other sources, including Federal installations, that use RMP-regulated substances. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the main sectors potentially affected, including the number of facilities per sector:
- Administration of environmental quality programs (i.e. governments): 1,923 facilities
- Agricultural chemical distributors/wholesalers: 3,667 facilities
- Chemical manufacturing: 1,466 facilities
- Chemical wholesalers: 333 facilities
- Food and beverage manufacturing: 1,476 facilities
- Oil and gas extraction: 741 facilities
- Paper manufacturing: 70 facilities
- Petroleum and coal products manufacturing: 156 facilities
- Petroleum wholesalers: 276 facilities
- Utilities: 343 facilities
- Warehousing and storage: 1,056 facilities
- Water/Wastewater Treatment Systems: 102 facilities
However, according to an Environmental Leader article, 87% of the 12,542 chemical facilities would be exempt from the requirements in the proposed rule.
What are the requirements?
The proposed amendments are intended to improve existing risk management plan requirements to enhance chemical safety at RMP facilities. Under the proposed revisions to the accident prevention program requirements, affected facilities would have to:
- Consider safer technologies and alternatives by including the assessment of Inherently Safer Technologies and Designs in the Process Hazard Assessment.
- Conduct third party audits and root cause analysis to identify process safety improvements for accident prevention.
- Enhance emergency planning and preparedness requirements to help ensure coordination between facilities and local communities.
- Strengthen emergency response planning to help ensure emergency response capabilities are available to mitigate the effect of a chemical accident.
- Improve the ability of LEPCs (Local Emergency Planning Committees) and local emergency response officials to better prepare for emergencies both individually and with one another.
- Improve access to information to help the public understand the risks at RMP facilities.
What is next?
The proposed rule has not been published yet in the Federal Register, but a pre-publication copy of the proposed amendments is currently available. Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, a 60-day comment period will begin. In addition, the EPA will hold a public hearing on the proposed rule on March 29, 2016 in Washington, DC.
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