Environmental Permitting

Risk Management Plan Violations Costing Millions

Also of note, the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, that left dozens dead and flattened portions of the town prompted President Obama to issue an executive order calling for the review of the risk management program to determine if it needs to be expanded to include additional substances and types of hazards. With that in mind and in light of recent RMP violations, now is a good time to review the current CAA RMP regulation, covered facilities and basic requirements.

The primary goal of an RMP is the prevention of accidental releases of substances that can harm humans or the environment after short-term exposure and to “mitigate the severity of releases that do occur.” The CAA Section 112(r) required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide a list of “at least 100 substances, which in case of an accidental release, are known to cause or may reasonably be anticipated to cause death, injury, or serious adverse effects to human health or the environment.” Since then, threshold quantities were established, and RMPs are required of facilities that exceed onsite threshold quantities of the listed substances.

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The RMP rule, titled the Chemical Accident Prevention Provisions (40 CFR Part 68), covers a broad range of facilities that “handle, manufacture, store, or use toxic substances, including chlorine and ammonia and highly flammable substances such as propane” (except flammable substances used as fuel or sold at retail). The original compliance deadline was June 21, 1999 and the ongoing deadline is “no later than the date on which you first have more than a threshold quantity of a listed substance in a process” or 3 years after the date a regulated substances is first listed by EPA, if you have that substance above threshold quantities. RMPs must also be updated at least every 5 years.

When a threshold quantity is exceeded, facilities are required to develop and implement an RMP and to maintain associated documentation on-site. EPA has an online system for submitting RMP information called RMP*eSubmit that is available at http://www.epa.gov/oem/content/rmp/rmp_esubmit.htm. An RMP must include:

1) An executive summary.
2) The registration for the facility.
3) The certification statement .
4) An analysis of the potential off-site consequences of a worst-case, accidental release. This information will help to determine which program level requirements will apply to your facility and can be conducted using RMP*Comp at http://www.epa.gov/oem/content/rmp/rmp_comp.htm.
5) A five-year accident history.
6) Prevention program data
7) Emergency planning information.

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In addition, there are three levels of risk-based coverage under the RMP rule:

Program Level 1 applies to facilities with no accident history and no potential for a worst-case scenario to impact the public as proven by analysis.

Program Level 2 covers those not eligible for Level 1 or subject to Level 3 and requires “streamlined prevention program requirements, as well as additional hazard assessment, management, and emergency response requirements.”

Program Level 3 covers facilities that are not eligible for Level 1 and are subject to either the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Process Safety Management Standard (PSM) under a state or federal program or they are classified in one of 10 North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes listed in 40 CFR 68.10 that rank relatively high for accidental releases reported. Requirements include use of OSHA’s PSM standard to fulfill the prevention program and additional hazard assessment, management and emergency response requirements.

One other important aspect is that of RMP Audits to assess RMPs for compliance with Part 68. While there is no set number of audits to be conducted, facilities may be selected based on criteria such as accident history, chemical quantities, hazards identified in RMPs, and facility proximity to public and environmental receptors.

A very comprehensive document titled General Risk Management Program Guidelines is available from EPA at http://www.epa.gov/osweroe1/content/rmp/rmp_guidance.htm#General.

Some states and local implementing agencies have delegation for the RMP program and they are listed in Chapter 10 of the RMP Guidelines above. You should contact your state program for additional requirements and submission information.

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