EPA : Amendments to Risk Management Program

In the March 14, 2016 Federal Register the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed changes to its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations. EPA proposed these changes in response to Executive Order 13650 “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security,” which was issued after the West, Texas in 2013.

These changes are intended to improve process safety, help local emergency authorities plan for, and respond to accidents, and improve public awareness of chemicals hazards at regulated sources. The major changes EPA has proposed update the accident prevention program requirements, the emergency response requirements, and the availability of chemical hazard information. Public comments will be accepted through May 13, 2016.

EPA-Amendments-Risk-Management-Program

The accident prevention program has three proposed changes.

First, all facilities with Program 2 or 3 processes would be required to conduct a root cause analysis during an incident investigation of a catastrophic release or an incident that could have reasonably resulted in a catastrophic release.

Second, facilities with Program 2 or 3 processes would be required to have an independent third-party conduct a compliance audit following a reportable release. Currently, compliance audits are required, but a facility may conduct a self-audit.

Finally, facilities with Program 3 regulated processes with a NAICS code of 322 (paper manufacturing), 324 petroleum and coal products manufacturing), and 325 (chemical manufacturing) would be required to evaluate the feasibility of any inherently safer technology and alternatives analysis as part of their process hazard analysis.

EPA’s emergency response program requirements also have proposed revisions. First, facilities with Program 2 or 3 processes would be required to coordinate with local authorities annually. These facilities would also be required to conduct annual notification exercises to ensure that their emergency contact information is current. Finally, all facilities subject to the emergency response program requirements of subpart E would be required to conduct a full field exercise every five years and one tabletop exercise in the other years. Facilities that have an RMP reportable accident would be required to conduct a full field exercise within a year of the accident.

EPA’s proposed amendments are also intended to increase the public availability of chemical hazard information. All facilities would be required to provide basic information to the public through easily accessible means, such as a facility web site or through public libraries or government offices. Some facilities would be required to provide additional information to Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs), if requested. LEPCS could request summaries of compliance audits, emergency response exercises, accident history and investigation reports, and any inherently safer technology implemented on site. All facilities would also be required to hold a public meeting after a reportable accident.

Sources:

EPA, Proposed rule, “Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs Under the Clean Air Act,” 81 FR 13637, March 14, 2016

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