On Aug. 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed amendments to the Risk Management Program (RMP) – Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention. Per EPA, the proposed amendments seek to improve chemical process safety; assist in planning, preparedness, and responding to RMP-reportable accidents; and improve public awareness of chemical hazards at regulated sources.
Proposed updates to the RMP include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Hazard evaluation and accident prevention amplifications;
- Safer technology and alternatives analysis (STAA), including facility density & hydrogen fluoride (HF) requirements;
- Root cause analysis;
- Third-party compliance audits;
- Employee participation obligations, including recommendation decisions, stop work authority, and accident and non-compliance reporting;
- Emergency response exercises;
- Community notification of RMP accidents and community emergency response plan amplifications;
- Information availability and process safety information requirements;
- Compliance requirements with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices (RAGAGEP) for Program 2 and 3 facilities;
- Retention of hot work permits; and
- Storage incident to transportation standards.
EPA will be hosting three (3) virtual public hearings on the proposal at the end of September, and will be accepting comments on the proposal until Oct.31, 2022.
ACA will be submitting comments with input from its Environmental Management Committee.
Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act Amendments requires EPA to publish regulations and guidance for chemical accident prevention at facilities that use certain hazardous substances. These regulations and guidance are contained in RMP rule, which requires facilities that use extremely hazardous substances to develop a Risk Management Plan. These plans must be revised and resubmitted to EPA every five years, and address the following:
- Identify the potential effects of a chemical accident;
- Identify steps the facility is taking to prevent an accident; and
- Spell out emergency response procedures should an accident occur.
These plans provide information to local fire, police, and emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies in their community.
Notably, some RMP amendments made in 2017 were scaled during former President Donald Trump’s administration.