EPA’s Risk Management Program: Does It Apply to Your Business?

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EPA’s Risk Management Program: Does It Apply to Your Business?

This month, we highlight another Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation on facilities that store chemicals, particularly extremely hazardous ones. The Risk Management Program (RMP) was created from section 112(r) of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment and required the EPA to set up guidelines for chemical safety at facilities with hazardous substances. The guidelines are encapsulated by the Risk Management Program (RMP) rule. The RMP rule mandates that facilities housing extremely hazardous substances create a Risk Management Plan (also shortened to RMP) that is submitted to the EPA, with the goal of preventing accidental dangerous chemical releases.

The RMP has several key requirements. Regulated facilities must identify the risks that are present with the chemicals being housed at the facility, provide an accident history from the last five years, and include considerations of the worst-case-scenario accidental releases of toxic chemicals. The RMP must also outline how the facility is working to prevent an accident (including employee safety training) and the facility’s emergency response plan (including health care plans and the process for contacting first responders).

Once completed, the RMPs must be submitted to the EPA through the RMP*eSubmit platform. They must also be revised and resubmitted every five years.

Importantly, the RMPs are published and are made securely available to local officials. This means that first responders (like firefighters and other emergency workers) can use the information in the RMPs to prepare for incidents at facilities with hazardous substances. The EPA also has a Risk Management Public Data Tool that allows the public to search for a facility and find information about the extremely hazardous chemicals housed there (restrictions do apply to sensitive information).

Another useful tool the EPA provides is the Vulnerable Zone Indicator System (VZIS). This system allows interested people to enter an address and investigate if that area is at risk if a chemical accident occurs (the system uses submitted RMP data for this).

These resources highlight the importance and usefulness of the RMP data collected by the EPA, but how should you determine if your facility needs to submit one?

By using the chemical inventory system from Chemical Safety Software, you can easily keep track of the quantities of chemicals at your facility. If your facility exceeds a threshold quantity of a regulated extremely hazardous substance, you will need to report it through an RMP. Some examples of threshold quantities include 10,000 pounds of propane (fuel is not included), 2,500 pounds of chlorine, and 10,000 pounds of ammonia. To check if any chemicals used or housed in your facility qualify, use the EPA’s list of regulated substances.

Keep in mind that the rule’s applicability is not limited to the list of regulated substances. Much like OSHA’s all-encompassing General Duty Clause, CAA Section 112(r)(1) has a General Duty Clause that “makes the owners and operators of facilities that have regulated and other [emphasis added] extremely hazardous substances responsible for ensuring that their chemicals are managed safely.”

If you are required to report under the Risk Management Program and using the Chemical Safety Software EMS modules, you can easily identify the extremely hazardous substances at your facility, and how other components of the RMP (like employee training and prevention preparation) overlap with requirements your business already follows, such as OSHA regulations. Check back for articles in the coming months where we will outline these OSHA regulations as well as additional EPA standards.

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