Q: If a facility already submits chemical information required under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), is the same information required in an RMP?
A: The chemical reporting requirements for EPCRA and RMPs may be similar, however, they are not the same. Under EPCRA sections 311 and 312, all hazardous chemicals defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (excepting those defined at 40 CFR 370.13) must be reported in compliance with chemical inventory reporting requirements using either Tier I or Tier II forms. This information includes:
- Type of chemical,
- Amount of chemical,
- Location and storage information for each chemical, and
- Facility contact information.
RMP requirements apply to a distinct group of chemicals identified at 40 CFR 68.130, that was originally mandated under the CAA to be at least 100 substances that when released may be reasonably expected to cause harm to people and/or the environment. The EPA has established a threshold quantity for each chemical, and facilities that exceed threshold quantities must prepare, submit, and update their RMPs. In short, RMP requirements are intended to provide a higher level of accident prevention and mitigation than EPCRA, which is intended to cover only emergency planning and the community’s right to know.
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Q: If a facility is in compliance with OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard, is that facility exempt from submitting an RMP?
A: No. Although the PSM Standard and the RMP regulations are closely related, being in compliance with PSM requirements does not exempt a facility from compliance with the RMP requirements. Facility owners/operators should note, however, that because the RMP requirements for Level 3 processes are almost identical to PSM standard requirements, a process that is in compliance with OSHA’s PSM should already be in compliance with the Level 3 requirements under the RMP regulations.
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Q: What are the rules for submitting, updating, and correcting RMPs?
A: If a facility is introducing a regulated substance that is not already listed in their RMP (or the facility has not yet been required to submit an RMP), the new RMP or the update must be submitted by the date that the regulated substance first becomes present on-site in amounts above the threshold quantity. If the EPA adds a new chemical to the list of regulated substances, 40 CFR Part 68 requires that facilities meet all requirements for that chemical within 3 years of the date the chemical is listed.
Updating is also required within 6 months of a change that involves:
- A revised process hazard analysis or hazard review,
- A revised off-site consequence analysis, or
- A change that alters the program level that applied to a covered process.
RMP updates that are submitted for any of the above three reasons will also result in a change of the RMP’s 5-year anniversary date from the original date of submission to the date of the most recent update.
Accidental releases meeting the criteria for reporting in the 5-year accident history section of the RMP must be made within 6 months of the accident date, and any changes related to emergency contact information must be made within 1 month of the change. In addition, all RMPs must be updated and resubmitted every 5 years, although in special situations, earlier updated and resubmission may be required before the 5-year anniversary.