EPA Issue Compliance Guidance on RMP Amendments Now in Effect

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued Compliance Information and Guidance for the Risk Management Plan (RMP) Amendments, after a Sept. 21 DC Circuit Court mandate, which made the 2017 RMP amendments immediately effective. That action followed the Aug. 17 U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit decision that vacated EPA’s June 2017 Rule that was intended to delay the effective date of the 2017 RMP Amendments Rule until 2019.

EPA’s guidance is intended to help regulated entities navigate their compliance requirements. The document outlines the 2017 RMP Amendments Rule provisions that have current compliance obligations and those for which compliance will be due in the future.

In general, EPA’s RMP program applies to all stationary sources with processes that contain more than a threshold amount of a regulated substance. The program’s elements are intended to prevent accidental releases and reduce the severity of releases that occur. All sources must prepare and submit an RMP to EPA at least every five years. In addition, RMP Program 3 facilities involve processes subject to OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) standard or are in one of the specified NAICS codes, such as chemical manufacturing. Together, PSM and RMP form the regulatory framework for prevention of catastrophic chemical accidents at fixed facilities. Several ACA companies have facilities subject to RMP requirements, including Program 3 facilities, which have the most stringent requirements.

Facilities are required to update their RMPs to comply with new or revised provisions by March 14, 2022. The compliance date for the following RMP Amendments provisions is March 15, 2021:

  • Third-party audit provisions in §§ 68.58(f), 68.58(g), 68.58(h), 68.59, 68.79(f), 68.79(g), 68.79(h), and 68.80;
  • Incident investigation root cause analysis provisions in §§ 68.60(d)(7) and 68.81(d)(7);
  • Safer technology and alternatives analysis in § 68.67(c)(8);
  • Emergency response exercise provisions in § 68.96; and
  • Providing chemical hazard information or community preparedness information to the public and conducting a public meeting 90 days after an RMP accident in § 68.210 (b) –(e).

In addition, it’s important to note that EPA’s Proposed RMP Reconsideration Rule that rescinds and modifies numerous provisions of the 2017 RMP Amendments is still on the docket. If the reconsideration rule is finalized, there would be different requirements than those that just took effect. By way of background, EPA officially finalized the RMP amendments on Jan. 13, 2017; however, the effective date of the final RMP amendments was delayed several times. In the interim, EPA had proposed to rollback several provisions of that 2017 RMP rule. Among others, EPA is proposing to rescind amendments relating to third-party compliance audits, safer technology and alternatives analyses, incident investigations, and information availability to the public. In addition, EPA is proposing to retain, modify, or incorporate some amendments relating to local emergency response coordination, emergency response exercises, and CBI protections.

EPA has said that it will provide additional information on the impacts of the court decision as soon as it is available.

Contact ACA’s Rhett Cash for more information.

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