EPA Seeks Comments on Risk Management Program Revision
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized the Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention (SCCAP) rule, which amends its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations to reduce the likelihood of accidental releases at chemical facilities and improve emergency response activities if/when those releases occur. This provides additional protection to those living near facilities with high accident rates, as well as identifies safer technologies and chemical alternatives, more thorough incident investigations and third-party auditing.
The Accidental Release Prevention regulations under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) require covered facilities to develop and implement a risk management program. These regulations, often referred to as EPA Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations, are intended to improve chemical process safety, assist local emergency authorities in planning for and responding to accidents and improve public awareness of chemical hazards at regulated sources. Strengthening Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations requires facilities to do more to prevent chemical accidents, particularly types of facilities that have frequent or severe accidents. In turn, this will foster safer communities by reducing the frequency of accidental chemical releases and their adverse effects.
“Protecting public health is central to EPA’s mission, particularly as we adapt to the challenges of climate change, and the proposal announced today advances this effort, especially for those in vulnerable communities,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in a release. “This rule will better protect communities from chemical accidents, and advance environmental justice for communities that have been disproportionately impacted by these facilities.”
Changes to the existing rule include providing greater protection for communities living near RMP facilities; emphasizing the requirement for regulated facilities to evaluate risks of natural hazards and climate change; promoting environmental justice through increased availability of information for fence-line communities; requiring safer technologies and alternatives analysis for certain facilities with high accident rates; advancing employee participation and opportunity in decision making on facility accident prevention requirements; and enhancing facility planning and preparedness efforts. Facilities with a history of accidents will be required to conduct third party audits.
The EPA is requesting public comment on the proposed Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention (SCCAP) rule on Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET, on Sept. 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. ET, and on Sept. 28 from 5 to 8 p.m. ET. Participants must pre-register by Sept. 22 to participate in any of these hearings. Interested parties can also present information, comments, and views related to the SCCAP proposed rule during these virtual public hearings. Learn more about the virtual public hearings by clicking HERE.