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EPA Proposes Changes to Process Safety Risk Management Program

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, February 26, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to amend the Accidental Release Prevention Requirements of Risk Management Programs (RMP) under the Clean Air Act, Section 112(r)(7). The proposed revisions aim to modernize its chemical safety and security regulations, guidance, and policies required under Executive Order (EO) 13650. EO 13650 directs the federal government to carry out a number of tasks intended to prevent chemical accidents, such as the explosion in West, Texas on April 17, 2013.

In a statement released by Mathy Stanislaus, EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management, "The chemical industry provides critical products we use every day, creates jobs, and is a staple of the U.S. economy. While numerous chemical plants are operated safely, in the last 10 years more than 1,500 accidents were reported by RMP facilities.  These accidents are responsible for causing nearly 60 deaths, some 17,000 people being injured or seeking medical treatment, almost 500,000 people being evacuated or sheltered-in-place, and costing more than $2 billion in property damages."

The Accidental Release Prevention regulations under section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), also known as the EPA RMP regulations, require covered facilities to develop and implement a risk management program.  The proposed revisions to EPA’s RMP regulations is a key action item under President Obama’s Executive Order (EO) 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security.  EPA shares RMP information with state and local officials to help them plan for and prevent chemical accidents and releases.

This proposal is the result of a review undertaken to modernize the existing EPA RMP and information gathered from feedback obtained during listening sessions, Webinars, meetings with stakeholder groups, stakeholder conferences and public comments in response to EPA’s Request for Information.

The proposed amendments are intended to improve existing risk management plan requirements to enhance chemical safety at RMP facilities by:

  • Requiring the consideration of safer technologies and alternatives by including the assessment of Inherently Safer Technologies and Designs in the Process Hazard Assessment;
  • Requiring third party audits and root cause analysis to identify process safety improvements for accident prevention;
  • Enhancing  emergency planning and preparedness requirements to ensure coordination between facilities and local communities;
  • Improving the ability of local emergency planning committees and local  emergency response officials to better prepare for emergencies; and
  • Increasing public access to information to help the public understand the risks at RMP facilities, and increase community involvement in accident planning for when communities need to evacuate or shelter-in-place during an accident.

The public will have 60 days from publication in the Federal Register to submit written comments online at www.regulations.gov (the portal for federal rulemaking), or by mail.

For more information about the proposed rule, visit:
http://www.epa.gov/rmp/proposed-changes-risk-management-program-rmp-rule

 


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