The EPA proposed a revision to the rules governing risk management plans, and was approved by the federal Office of Management and the Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on February 24th, 2016. EPA submitted the proposal in December 2015, in response to President Obama’s executive order 13650, “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security,” which was issued in August 2013.
The revision covers a variety of areas, of which are accident prevention program modifications. This 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. It also requires these regulated facilities to contract with an independent third-party to perform a compliance audit after the facility has a reportable release. Additionally, it adds an element to the process hazard analysis (PHA), which is updated every 5 years.
The amendment also enhances emergency response. Owners or operators of all facilities with Program 2 or 3 processes are 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, and are further required to conduct notification exercises annually to ensure that their emergency contact information is accurate and complete.
Additionally, the rule makes information more readily available to the public. It requires all facilities to provide certain basic information to the public through easily accessible means such as a facility website, social media, or other platforms. Additionally, it requires all facilities to provide Local Emergency Planning Committees or other local emergency response agencies with summaries of a variety of information upon request, and requires them to hold a public meeting within a certain timeframe following an RMP reportable accident.
The EPA held a public hearing in DC on March 29th, 2016, highlighting the upcoming amendments to the RMP.