Proposed Risk Management Program Regulations on the Way
How Might Your Business be Impacted?
Prompted by, among other incidents, a massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant located north of Waco, Texas on April 17, 2013, President Obama has issued Executive Order 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security (EO 13650). The EO directs the government to conduct a number of tasks, including modernizing regulations and strengthening community planning and preparedness.
Will Your Business be Impacted?
This upcoming change could affect over 12,000 chemical facilities, including:
- Ammonia refrigeration facilities (business that operate large refrigeration and freezer operations)
- Water and wastewater treatment plants (private and publicly-owned treatment works)
- Chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers
- Natural gas processing facilities
- Petroleum refineries
- Chemical and petroleum distributors
- Agricultural wholesale and retail facilities
You may need to involve corporate counsel in evaluating the requirements and determining what new requirements will be triggered, as well as the extent to which new, and in some circumstances sensitive, information will need to be disclosed.
Taking Existing RMP Regulations One Step Further
Existing Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations address mandates contained in the Clean Air Act [Section 112(r)]. The regulations, promulgated in 1996, require certain facilities to prepare a hazard assessment that describes the potential impacts from an accidental release. They must also develop a prevention program and implement an emergency response program that spells out healthcare and employee training measures, and procedures for informing the public and appropriate response agencies should an accident occur.
The Executive Order requires that “the Administrator of EPA and the Secretary of Labor shall review the chemical hazards covered by the RMP and the Process Safety Management Standard (PSM) and determine if either should be expanded to address additional regulated substances and types of hazards.” The EO also requires the EPA and the Department of Labor to look ahead and develop a plan to expand, implement, and enforce the RMP and PSM “in a manner that addresses the additional regulated substances and types of hazards.” (EO 13650, 8/1/2013)
Small Business Advocacy Review in Progress
While we don’t know for sure which regulations will be revised, the EPA is conducting a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) to collect information on the rule’s impacts on small business operations. The EPA requests that participants in the SBAR focus on the following possible significant revisions:
- Third-party audits: A facility would be required to retain an independent compliance auditor to assess the facility after an accident is reported, rather than completing its own self-audit.
- Incident Root Cause Analysis: A facility must, in its investigation of an accident or near miss, conduct a root cause analysis to identify both the fundamental reasons for the incident and the associated management system failures. While EPA will not require submittal of the analysis, the agency expects corrective actions to be completed within a reasonable timeframe.
- Safer Alternatives Analysis: The EPA may propose that some facilities identify ways to permanently eliminate or reduce hazards throughout the process life cycle-- manufacturing, transporting, storage, use, and disposal. The regulation may require feasible alternatives to be implemented.
- Coordinating Emergency Response Program Requirements with Local Responders: A facility must provide annual opportunities for coordination with local emergency response agencies.
- Emergency Response Exercises: A facility must test their emergency response plan through a live exercise or tabletop scenario, in conjunction with community responders.
- Information Sharing: A facility must share chemical information with local emergency planning committees, first responders, and the general public. The information would include compliance audit findings and summaries of incident investigation reports.
Make Sure Your Organization is Prepared
The proposed regulations are expected by January 2016, and a subsequent comment period would likely run 60 to 90 days. The final regulations would then be published. The regulations will probably stipulate an aggressive time frame, of perhaps six months to one year, to come into compliance with the new requirements.
If you think your organization might be impacted or want to learn more about existing and proposed RMP regulations, check out the Process Safety Management page or contact us for more information. Antea Group has a staff of health and safety professionals, environmental and chemical engineers, and other experts to assist in reviewing your present operations and identifying gaps that will need to be addressed to fully comply with the new standards.
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