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PT Notes

EPA RFI - Public Disclosure of Information

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

On July 24, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a Request for Information (RFI) seeking comments on potential revisions to its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations and related programs to modernize its regulations. Multiple issues were addressed in the RFI.

One of the issues addresses public disclosure of information to promote regulatory compliance and improve community understanding of chemical risks. EPA believes that ensuring that communities, local planners and local first responders have appropriate facility chemical hazard information is critical to the health and safety of the responders and the local community.

In response to Executive Order 13650, EPA is seeking ways to enhance information sharing and collaborative planning between chemical facility owners and operators, emergency planning committees, and first responders to make RMP-regulated facility information more readily available to local responders and local communities without creating additional security or proprietary business information concerns.

Questions posed by EPA on this issue include:

  1. Should EPA amend the RMP regulation to require RMP-regulated facilities to post chemical hazard-related information on their websites (if they have one) such as RMP chemical names, chemical quantities, executive summaries, links to LEPCs, community emergency plans, Safety Data Sheets for hazardous chemicals present on site, EPCRA Tier 2 reports, release notification reports, accident history and cause, and other similar information? What requirements should be considered for facilities that do not have a website?
     
  2. Would requiring facilities to make this information available on the company website promote improved regulatory compliance? What additional economic burden would be associated with such a requirement?
     
  3. Do RMP-regulated facility owners/operators have any safety or security concerns with posting the executive summary from the RMP, or linking to EPCRA reports and community response plans on company websites? Please explain any concerns regarding specific elements of this information.
     
  4. Would posting the RMP executive summary on a website cause facility owner/operators to remove important information from the executive summary? Does EPA need to define better the contents of an executive summary in order to allay security concerns?
     
  5. Is there other information (web-based or otherwise) that would assist local communities, emergency planners, and responders in understanding facility risks that should be made available publicly? For example, would disclosure of the facility's PHA or compliance audit to local authorities such as the LEPC result in improved safety?
     
  6. Does your facility interact with community groups (e.g. a citizen advisory panel)? If so, what information do you provide to such groups?
     
  7. Are there other activities or measures that RMP-facility owner/operators can use to ensure that communities, planners, and responders have access to appropriate information?
     
  8. Can the use of social media or other forms of community outreach be incorporated into hazard assessment, prevention, and response to leverage community involvement in oversight? For example, would increased public disclosure of RMP-related information, such as accidental releases, near misses, and subsequent safety enhancements, or increased community involvement in facility emergency response planning, lead to improvements in facility safety? Please identify aspects of the RMP rule where there are opportunities for community involvement.
Further details on this issue are provided in EPA's RFI which can be accessed by clicking here.

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