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PT Notes

EPA RMP Rule Amendments - Risk Management Plan Streamlining, Clarifications, and Technical Corrections

PT Notes is a series of topical technical notes on process safety provided periodically by Primatech for your benefit. Please feel free to provide feedback.

This PT Note describes amendments to EPA's Risk Management Program (RMP) regulation relating to modified requirements for Risk Management Plans and clarifications and technical corrections to the rule.

Risk Management Plan

A stationary source subject to the RMP rule is required to submit a Risk Management Plan in a method and format specified by the current rule. The Risk Management Plan must indicate compliance with the RMP regulations and also include information regarding the hazard assessment, prevention program, and emergency response program. The Plan also includes stationary source registration information, such as name, location and contact information.

EPA may review Plans for a variety of reasons, including information gathering, inspection preparation, errors in submissions, and changes requiring a correction or re-submission of the Plan. Plans must be made available to states, local entities responsible for planning or responding to accidental releases at the source, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, and the public. As a result, the information provided in a Plan is intended to be understood easily, thus encouraging the public, local entities, and governmental agencies to interact with stationary sources on issues related to accident prevention and preparedness.

EPA has added several data elements for Risk Management Plans in the amended rule. This includes data elements to address compliance with:

  • Third-party audit requirements.
  • Inherently safer technology analysis requirements in the process hazard analysis (PHA).
  • Emergency response preparedness requirements including information on local coordination and emergency response exercises. The owner or operator must identify whether the facility is a responding or non-responding stationary source.
  • Information sharing provisions.
    • The method of communication and the location of the notification that chemical hazard related information is available to the public.

      For example, if the owner or operator is modifying a website to identify that information is available upon request, then EPA expects that the owner or operator will identify in the Plan that the notification is being made through a website and then provide the website address of the notification. Alternatively, if the notification is made via a printed notice, then the owner or operator should identify that a printed notice is available and explain how to obtain the printed materials.

    • Whether a public meeting has been held following an RMP-reportable accident.

By adding these data elements to the Plan requirements, EPA stated it will be able to evaluate a stationary source’s compliance with these rule requirements.

EPA plans to revise its online RMP submission system, RMP*eSubmit, to include the additional data elements, and expects that the submission system will provide clarity for stationary source owners and operators on how to submit responses.


Prevention Program - Program 2

EPA has added a requirement that the owner or operator must identify whether the most recent compliance audit was a third-party audit.

EPA clarified that the date of the most recent incident investigation is the completion date of the investigation and that is the date on the final incident investigation report.


Prevention Program - Program 3

EPA has deleted the requirement to identify the expected date of completion of any changes resulting from the PHA and added a new requirement to address inherently safer technology or design measures implemented (if any) and the technology category.

Also, EPA has added a requirement that the owner or operator must identify whether the most recent compliance audit was a third-party audit.

EPA clarified that the date of the most recent incident investigation is the completion date of the investigation which is the date on the final incident investigation report.


Emergency Response Program and Exercises

EPA has completely revised and reorganized requirements for an emergency response program into three parts:

  • Requirements for all stationary sources. The owner or operator must provide in the Risk Management Plan:
    • The name, organizational affiliation, phone number, and email address of local emergency planning and response organizations with which the stationary source last coordinated emergency response efforts.
    • The date of the most recent coordination with the local emergency response organizations.
    • A list of Federal or state emergency plan requirements to which the stationary source is subject.
  • Requirements for non-responding stationary sources. The owner or operator must identify:
    • Whether the stationary source is included in the community emergency response plan for stationary sources with any regulated toxic substance held in a process above the threshold quantity.
    • The date of the most recent coordination with the local fire department for stationary sources with only regulated flammable substances held in a process above the threshold quantity.
    • What mechanisms are in place to notify the public and emergency responders when there is a need for emergency response.
    • The date of the most recent notification exercise.
  • Requirements for responding stationary sources. The owner or operator must identify:
    • The date of the most recent review and update of the emergency response plan.
    • The date of the most recent notification exercise.
    • The date of the most recent field exercise.
    • The date of the most recent tabletop exercise.

EPA believes that this reorganization will clarify the reporting requirements, reduce errors in submitted Risk Management Plans, and improve compliance with requirements. Also, EPA believes that the revisions will improve EPA’s ability to evaluate a facility’s compliance with the emergency response program requirements.


Technical Corrections

Applicability

EPA corrected a typographical error under the Applicability section of the RMP rule in which the definition of the term public receptor in the rule is incorrectly referenced because of a typographical error.

Safety Information - Program 2 Prevention Program

EPA has removed the word ‘‘material’’ from the term Material Safety Data Sheet to conform with OSHA’s revised terminology.

In 2012, OSHA made changes to its Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200 in order to align with the U.N. Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), Revision 3 (77 FR 17574, March 26, 2012). One change was in nomenclature from Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to Safety Data Sheet. Consequently, OSHA revised the name of the MSDS to Safety Data Sheet (SDS) in the Process Safety Management standard (78 FR 9311, February 8, 2013). Chemical producers and users had to comply with SDS requirements by June 1, 2015. EPA’s technical correction is solely to be consistent with the revised OSHA requirements.

Process Safety Information (PSI) - Program 3 Prevention Program

EPA has removed irrelevant text regarding the time frame for initial development of PSI
and specifically stated that PSI shall be kept up-to-date.

EPA expects that this revision will help Program 3 facilities better comply with PSI requirements and further clarifies the requirement that PSI must be completed prior to conducting a PHA.

Also, in order to be consistent with OSHA and the GHS, EPA has replaced the term “Material Safety Data Sheet” with “Safety Data Sheet”.

Training - Program 2 and 3 Prevention Programs

The RMP rule requires initial and refresher training for employees operating a Program 2 or Program 3 covered process. However, since the inception of the rule, there has been confusion on the types of employees that are considered workers operating a covered process. Although ‘‘employee’’ is not defined in the rule, EPA has traditionally interpreted an employee to be any worker who is involved in operating a process, including supervisors. This is consistent with the OSHA definition of ‘‘employee’’ set forth at 29 CFR 1910.2(d). EPA has amended the rule to clarify that employees “involved in” operating a process are subject to the training requirements of the rule.

Also, EPA added a clarification that the term employee includes supervisors responsible for directing process operations.

The revised language to require training for employees ‘‘involved in’’ operating a process is intended to include employees who operate a process, as well as supervisors of those employees, and other employees that may occasionally be involved in process operations, such as process engineers and maintenance technicians. For employees other than operators and supervisors, EPA expects that initial and refresher training will be appropriate to the employee’s responsibilities in operating the process.

If a supervisor is involved in decision making for process operations, such as making changes to operating parameters, developing or approving operating procedures, or conducting emergency operations, then EPA expects that the supervisor receives initial and refresher training appropriate to the supervisor’s responsibilities. In such cases, the training of a supervisor might not need to be as extensive as that of an operator, but EPA expects that the supervisor training will include process operations for which the supervisor might have decision-making authority.

List of Substances

EPA has revised Table 1, List of Regulated Toxic Substances and TQs for Accidental Release Prevention, to correct a typographical error in the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number for allyl alcohol. The incorrect CAS number of 107–18–61 has been corrected to 107–18–6.

EPA has revised Table 4, List of Regulated Flammable Substances and TQs for Accidental Release Prevention, to correct a typographical error in the CAS number for 1, 3-butadiene. The incorrect CAS number of 196–99–0 has been corrected to 106– 99–0. Also, some formatting changes have been made to the table.

EPA decided not to revise the list of regulated substances in these amendments. EPA acknowledged that there is both support and opposition to regulating ammonium nitrate in the comments received on the proposed amendments to the RMP rule and will consider these comments when determining whether to take further action on this issue. In the interim, EPA encourages fertilizer retailers to review and use existing guidance. Also, EPA noted that other agencies are considering addressing ammonium nitrate and indicated that EPA will coordinate any potential changes to the list of substances in the RMP rule with the actions of these other agencies.

Recordkeeping

EPA has revised the rule to clarify that records must be maintained at the stationary source.


Compliance Dates

The initial RMP rule applied 3 years after its promulgation on June 20. The RMP rule was issued under the Clean Air Act which does not directly address when amendments should become applicable.

EPA has established dates for an owner operator to comply with the revised rule provisions as follows:

  • Require compliance with emergency response coordination activities within one year of an effective date of a final rule.
  • Provide three years for the owner or operator of a non-responding stationary source to develop an emergency response program when the owner or operator determines that they meet the applicability criteria for responding stationary sources.
  • Comply with new provisions (i.e., third-party compliance audits, root cause analyses as part of incident investigations, safer technology and alternatives analysis, emergency response exercises, and information availability provisions), unless otherwise stated, four years after the effective date of the final rule.
  • Provide regulated sources one additional year (i.e., five years after the effective date of the final rule) to correct or resubmit RMPs to reflect new and revised data elements.

EPA believes that annual compliance dates and required reoccurring tasks should have flexible yearly due dates. This will allow the facility owner or operator and local emergency response officials to schedule coordination activities or exercises based on availability of personnel and minimize unnecessary pressure to comply with a rigid time frame.

EPA believes that additional time is necessary for facility owners and operators to understand the revised rule; train facility personnel on the revised provisions and learn new investigation techniques, as appropriate; research safer technologies; arrange for emergency response resources and response training; incorporate change into their risk management programs; and establish a strategy to notify the public that certain information is available upon request. Furthermore, EPA intends to publish guidance for certain provisions, such as STAA, root cause analysis, and emergency response exercises. Once these materials are complete, owners and operators will need time to familiarize themselves with the new materials and incorporate them into their risk management programs.

Third-Party Compliance Audits

The amended rule specifies a four-year compliance date for third-party audits. This means that for any RMP-reportable accident occurring later than four years after the effective date of the rule, the owner or operator of a source must conduct a third-party audit. The four-year compliance time frame will allow potential auditors enough time to establish internal protocols and identify personnel that meet the competency and independence criteria necessary to serve as a third-party auditor. These auditors will also need time to advertise their availability to conduct third-party audits so facility owners and operators can identify potential auditors before there is a need to conduct a third-party compliance audit.

Incident Investigations and Root Cause Analysis

For any incident that occurs four years after the effective date of the amended rule and results in an RMP-reportable accident, or could reasonably have resulted in a catastrophic release, the owner or operator must investigate the incident and conduct a root cause analysis. EPA believes that this will allow facility owners and operators sufficient time to establish training and program development activities. EPA encourages facility owner or operators that are already conducting root cause analyses to continue to do so for any incident that resulted in an RMP-reportable accident, or could reasonably have resulted in a catastrophic release, during the compliance time frame.

Safer Technology and Alternatives Analysis (STAA)

EPA believes that in many cases sources will prefer to perform a full PHA update when implementing the STAA requirements. Sources subject to this provision are among the largest and most complex sources regulated under the RMP rule, and therefore PHAs and PHA updates at these sources typically require a significant level of effort. Since PHA updates are normally done at five year intervals, EPA believes it would be appropriate to allow most sources to adopt these provisions in their normal PHA update cycle if they so choose.

Sources that performed their most recent PHA update immediately prior to this rule’s effective date will have up to four years to perform their next PHA update and adopt the STAA provisions. Most sources could schedule their PHA updates to incorporate the new STAA provisions on their normal PHA update schedule.

EPA intends to publish guidance on STAA and EPA stated that, once complete, facility owners and operators will need time to familiarize themselves with the new materials and incorporate them into their risk management programs.

Emergency Response Coordination

EPA believes that a flexible schedule is appropriate for scheduling annual coordination and agrees with the recommendation to base the coordination on a calendar year time frame.

Facility Exercises

The amended rule specifies a four-year compliance date for conducting emergency response exercises. This means that the owner or operator has four years after the effective date of the rule to conduct a notification exercise, consult with local emergency response officials to establish a schedule for conducting tabletop and field exercises, and complete at least one tabletop or field exercise. EPA believes that this time frame will allow owners and operators to develop an exercise program that is appropriate for their facility, train personnel, and coordinate with local emergency response officials.

EPA expects to develop guidance on emergency response exercises and EPA stated that facility owners and operators will require time to familiarize themselves with the guidance.

Information Availability

The amended rule specifies a four-year compliance date for information availability provisions. This means that four years after the effective date of the rule, the facility owner or operator must have notifications in place to inform the public that specified information is available upon request. For any RMP-reportable accident occurring later than four years after the effective date of the rule, the owner or operator of a source must hold a public meeting within 90 days of the accident.

EPA believes that this timeframe is sufficient to allow facility staff an opportunity to determine the best method for providing notifications to the public and to assemble and format information to prepare to respond to information requests.

Update and Resubmit Risk Management Plan

The amended rule specifies a five-year compliance date for this provision. EPA believes that this time frame will allow owners and operators an opportunity to begin to comply with revised rule provisions prior to certifying compliance in the Risk Management Plan.

EPA intends to revise its online Plan submission system, RMP*eSubmit, to include the additional data elements, and sources will not be able to update Plans with new or revised data elements until the submission system is ready. Also, EPA stated that, once it is ready, allowing an additional year for sources to update Plans will prevent potential problems with thousands of sources submitting updated Plans on the same day.

Examples of compliance dates are provided in the preamble to the amended rule.


Updates

Under the current rule, if a stationary source is no longer subject to the RMP rule, the owner or operator must submit a de-registration to EPA within six months indicating that the stationary source is no longer covered. The amended rule adds a requirement to report any accidents covered by the rule and conduct incident investigations prior to de-registration.


The final rule can be found at:

40 CFR Part 68, Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs Under the Clean Air Act, Final Rule

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