EPA Begins New Year by Amending Risk Management Program Rules
On January 13, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published final amendments to its Risk Management Program (“RMP”) regulations at 40 C.F.R. Part 68. The final rule comes in response to Executive Order 13650, which ordered federal agencies to take actions to improve chemical facility safety and security. The amendments to the RMP regulations apply to any facility holding more than a threshold quantity of a “regulated substance” identified in 40 C.F.R. Part 68, including facilities in the chemical manufacturing, oil and gas extraction, manufacturing, agricultural, petroleum manufacturing, and food and beverage sectors. EPA estimates that approximately 12,500 facilities may be impacted by the rule.
Changes finalized as part of the amendments include enhancements to the RMP rule’s accident prevention, emergency response, and data availability provisions. Some of the significant updates to the rule include obligations for Program 2 and 3 facilities to conduct root cause analyses in response to certain release events and to perform third-party audits after an RMP reportable accident; enhanced coordination between regulated facilities and local emergency response agencies; and mandatory public meetings with local communities impacted by RMP reportable accidents. The amendments to the RMP rule take effect on March 14, 2017.
Note: As of June 2017, EPA Administrator Pruitt delayed effective date of RMP amendments until February 19, 2019. The new timeframe will allow the agency to properly evaluate objections raised by petitions reconsideration.