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EPA seeks comments on risk management program changes

Government rulemakingThe EPA has published a Request for Information (RFI) to seek comment on potential revisions to its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations and related programs to modernize its regulations as required under Executive Order (EO) 13650: Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security.

Reaching out

“Chemical safety and security are a shared commitment among government, industry, public interest groups and communities,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “We are reaching out to all these partners to ask for their suggestions and comments to help us improve the Risk Management Program, and in turn improve safety and security of chemical facilities.”

During the 90-day comment period, EPA asks for information and data on specific regulatory elements and process safety management approaches to enhance public health and safety, and aid local fire, police, and emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies. The information received will be used when reviewing chemical hazards covered by the RMP and to determine how this program should be expanded to improve chemical facility safety. The RFI does not commit the agency to rulemaking.

EPA is coordinating with OSHA

EO 13650 requires OSHA and the EPA to review the chemical hazards covered by their existing risk management programs and develop options to improve those programs. OSHA issued an RFI on potential changes to its Process Safety Management (PSM) standard on December 9, 2013. EPA’s RFI closely coordinates with the potential changes to OSHA’s PSM program for accident prevention measures.

What the RFI is about

The RFI addresses potentially updating the list of RMP regulated substances, and adjusting threshold quantities and toxic endpoints based on Acute Exposure Guideline Level (AEGL) toxicity values. The RFI seeks comment on strengthening or clarifying several existing process safety elements under the RMP including compliance audits, maintenance of safety critical equipment, managing organizational changes, emergency response capabilities, and incident investigation. It also seeks comment on adding additional risk management program elements, such as consideration of using inherently safer technology, process safety metrics, automated monitoring of releases, emergency drills, stop work authority, and addressing facility location (siting) risks. Some of the items under consideration were discussed at the public listening sessions held on the EO or in comments received on the January 2014 EO Section 6(a) options for policy, regulations and standards modernization to improve chemical facility risk management.

To view EPA’s RFI and provide public comment, visit www.epa.gov/emergencies/eo_improving_chem_fac.htm

The public will have 90 days to submit written comments online, www.regulations.gov (the portal for federal rulemaking), or by mail.

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