The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) released a pre-publication of the proposed Risk Management Program (RMP) rule changes last week to be published in the Federal Register. Comments are due 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. A public meeting is planned for March 29, 2016. The proposed revisions and several other supporting documents can be found at:
The following is a summary of the major provisions as described in the proposed rule publication:
- Accident Prevention Program Revisions
- Requires all facilities with Program 2 or 3 processes to conduct a root cause analysis as part of an incident investigation of a catastrophic release or an incident that could have reasonably resulted in a catastrophic release (i.e. a near-miss).
- Requires regulated facilities with Program 2 or 3 processes to contract with independent third-party firms to perform a compliance audit after the facility has a reportable release. The 3-year compliance audits required under the existing rule are allowed to be self-audits.
- Owners or operators of facilities with Program 3 regulated processes in NAICS codes 322 (paper manufacturing), 324 (petroleum and coal products manufacturing), and 325 (chemical manufacturing) would be required to conduct a Safer Technology and Alternatives Analysis (STAA) as part of their PHA, and to evaluate the feasibility of any inherently safer technology (IST) identified. The current PHA requirements include consideration of active, passive and procedural measures to control hazards. The proposed modernization effort adds consideration of IST alternatives.
- Emergency Response Enhancements
- Owners and operators of all facilities with Program 2 or 3 processes would be required to coordinate with the local emergency response agencies at least once a year to ensure that resources and capabilities are in place to respond to an accidental release of a regulated substance.
- All facilities with Program 2 or 3 processes would be required to conduct notification exercises annually to ensure that their emergency contact information is accurate and complete.
- All facilities subject to the emergency response program requirements of subpart E of the rule (or “responding facilities”) would be required to conduct a full field exercise at least once every five years and one tabletop exercise annually in the other years.
- Responding facilities that have an RMP reportable accident would also have to conduct a full field exercise within a year of the accident.
- Enhanced Public Availability of Information
- All facilities would be required to provide certain basic information to the public through easily accessible means such as a facility website. If no website exists, the owner or operator may provide the information at public libraries or government offices, or use other means appropriate for particular locations and facilities.
- A subset of facilities would be required, upon request, to provide the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), Tribal Emergency Planning Committee (TEPC) or other local emergency response agencies with summaries related to:
- their activities on compliance audits (facilities with Program 2 and Program 3 processes);
- emergency response exercises (facilities with Program 2 and Program 3 processes);
- accident history and investigation reports (all facilities that have had RMP reportable accidents); and
- any ISTs implemented at the facility (a subset of Program 3 processes).
- All facilities would be required to hold a public meeting for the local community within a specified timeframe after an RMP reportable accident.
In addition to the major provisions, there are several additional revisions proposed to clarify or simplify the RMP submission. There are also proposed technical corrections to various provisions of the rule.
Post receipt and consideration of written and oral comments, USEPA will proceed with publication of the proposed final rule changes.
If you have questions regarding the Risk Management Program rule changes, their intent, or the practical integration of them into your existing written management systems, please reach out to us through our Contact Us page.