Environmental Permitting

RMP under Scrutiny

The EPA recently issued an updated request for information (RFI) seeking public comment on updating its Risk Management Program regulations, and a notice of proposed rulemaking is being prepared.  In the original RFI, the Agency noted that it is looking for specific feedback on whether the list of Risk Management Program (RMP)-regulated substances should be modified by adding other substances, such as ammonium nitrate.

The EPA also initiated a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel that will focus on the Agency’s development of a rule that proposes to modify the current RMP regulation to reduce the likelihood of accidental releases of toxic and flammable substances at chemical facilities, and to improve emergency response when those releases occur.

Note. The Risk Management Program requires that sources with more than a threshold quantity (TQ) of a regulated substance in a process develop and implement a Risk Management Program and submit a risk management plan (RMP) to the EPA. The Agency puts the number of facilities affected by risk management requirements at 12,600. Those affected include but are not limited to chemical manufacturers, petroleum refineries, water treatment systems, agricultural chemical distributors, refrigerated warehouses, chemical distributors, nonchemical manufacturers, wholesale fuel distributors, and energy generation facilities.

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The EPA is seeking

In the original RFI, the EPA asked for specific feedback on whether the list of Risk Management Program-regulated substances should be modified by:

  • Adding other toxic or flammable substances.
  • Adding high and/or low explosives.
  • Adding ammonium nitrate. As OSHA is in the process of developing an approach to improve workplace safety associated with ammonium nitrate hazards, EPA will consider if additional action to protect the community is needed to complement OSHA regulations. EPA is considering whether the coverage provided to ammonium nitrate facilities will be sufficient, or whether ammonium nitrate should be included in the Risk Management Program regulation. The EPA is also considering developing regulations separate from the Risk Management Program requirements, as this may be more appropriate to cover facilities whose handling of this chemical does not involve typical manufacturing and processing operations normally seen with chemicals that are hazardous gases and liquids, such as fertilizer distribution facilities.
  • Adding reactive substances and reactivity hazards. The EPA is considering modifying modify the accident reporting requirements in RMPs and in “RMP*Info” (EPA’s database for risk management plans) to define and record reactive incidents and add the term “reactive incident” to the four existing “release events” in EPA’s current 5-year accident reporting requirements (gas release, liquid spill/evaporation, fire, and explosion are the current four).
  • Adding other categories of substances. Other categories the EPA is considering adding to the Risk Management Program are organic peroxides, oxidizers, combustible dusts, and flammable solids.
  • Removing certain substances from the list or raising their TQ.
  • Lowering the TQ for substances currently on the list.

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Timing and Burden

The EPA is waiting for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve its latest request for information. Should that happen, the request that regulated entities provide information will shift from voluntary to mandatory.

The EPA notes that it is timing its RFI so that it does not overlap with the period when Risk Management Program facilities will be preparing their next 5-year RMP submissions. Most facilities will need to make their next submissions in 2019; the remaining sources have been assigned different deadlines in 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2020, based on the dates of their most recent submissions.

Information requests to the OMB must estimate the burden respondents will bear; the EPA estimates this burden at 80,546 hours and $6,736,212.


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