Chemicals, Regulatory Developments

Opposite Camps Fault RMP Proposal

In its spring 2016 regulatory agenda, the EPA set a December 2016 completion date for its final revisions of regulations implementing Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 112(r), the Risk Management Program (RMP). Since issuing the first RMP rule in 1996, the Agency has revised the requirements at least six times. But the most recent proposed changes (March 14, 2016, FR) may be the most consequential and, accordingly have generated strong responses from industry as well as public interest groups; the latter are most concerned about environmental justice in low-income communities that tend to be closer to RMP facilities than more affluent areas. Industry, meanwhile, has objected to most aspects of the proposal, which it says is impractical and ineffective and undermines security.

The RMP is primarily intended to reduce the risk of accidental releases at facilities with threshold amounts of hazardous chemicals, which could impact off-site public and environmental receptors. Regulated facilities must conduct process hazard assessments that detail the potential effects of such releases and worst-case and alternative accident scenarios; develop prevention programs that include safety precautions and maintenance, monitoring, and employee training measures; and put in place emergency response programs that include procedures for informing the public and local response agencies should an accident occur. Facilities subject to the program are placed into one of three RMPs based on the risk they pose or the accident history of their sector. Approximately 12,500 facilities must comply with RMP requirements, but Program 2 and 3 facilities are considered the highest risk and are the primary targets of the current proposal.

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