Obama EPA’s most consequential actions to prevent accidents at facilities with hazardous chemicals have been written out in the Agency’s just released final amendments to regulations implementing Clean Air Act (CAA) section 112(r), more commonly called the Risk Management Program (RMP).
The revisions can be classified into three sections—those that relate directly to accident prevention measures RMP facilities must take; those that RMP facilities must take to improve coordination with local emergency response organizations; and those that make more information about hazards at chemical hazards available to the public.
Approximately 12,500 stationary sources, called facilities, are subject to the federal RMP. The regulations apply to facilities that hold specific regulated substances in excess of threshold quantities. Under the RMP, these facilities are required to assess their potential release impacts, undertake steps to prevent releases, plan for emergency response to releases, and summarize this information in a risk management plan submitted to the EPA. The release prevention steps vary depending on the type of process at the facility, but they progressively gain granularity and rigor over three program levels (i.e., Program 1, Program 2, and Program 3).