Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

EPA Seeks Comments On Accidental Release Prevention Requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Sep 04, 2014 August 2013, President Obama issued an Executive Order directing federal regulatory agencies to review specified regulatory programs that are designed to prevent catastrophic releases of toxics: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Chemical Process Safety Management Standard (PSM); Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Accidental Release Prevention (ARP) program and Emergency Planning and Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) program; and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program (I blogged about the EO here, OSHA’s consideration of PSM changes here, and about one of the agencies’ joint reports on progress here). EPA has just issued a request for information on the possible revisions to ARP requirements, which are described below.

What Are Existing ARP Program Requirements?

Congress added authority for ARP in the 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) amendments (Section 112(r)), directing EPA to create a program to prevent accidental releases of air contaminants that might produce catastrophic offsite consequences. EPA issued regulations in 1996. The statute and regulations have continued to evolve in intervening years. Requirements are quite detailed, but for purposes of this note consist of:

  • Specified regulated substances, including 77 toxic substances and 63 flammable substances. Each substance has one or more threshold quantities that trigger compliance responsibilities (some have multiple quantities that depend on the physical state).

  • Regulation of stationary sources (borrowing the general CAA term), based on an interconnected process with a threshold quantity of one or more regulated substances, which are divided into risk-based “programs” – Program 1 contains demonstrably low-risk sources, Program 3 are sources in industrial categories deemed high risk, and Program 2 sources are those not in 1 or 3.

  • A risk management plan (RMP), containing the following elements:

    • Registration with EPA/state, with source information (ownership, location, etc.).

    • An offsite consequence analysis (OCA), modeling exposures from a “worst-case release scenario” (complete release of largest container). Program 2 and 3 facilities must also analyze “alternative release scenarios” that could exceed an exposure endpoint.

    • Five-year accident history, including description of post-accident changes to operations and processes.

    • Prevention program (for sources in Programs 2 and 3), based on a detailed hazard review that includes written operating procedures, maintenance and internal compliance procedures, post-incident investigation procedures, and training for all relevant employees.

    • Emergency response program including procedures for notification and response, and training for relevant employees.

    • Certification of the truth and accuracy of submitted information (and for Program 1 sources, of their exemption from prevention program requirements).

    • Regulated sources are responsible for periodic and event-related updates.

What Possible Changes is EPA Considering?

EPA is asking for information about a variety of potential changes. Some borrow from PSM and CFATS, while others have surfaced through the many reviews following President Obama’s Executive Order and other federal and state initiatives. These include:

  • Regulated substances – add or remove chemicals and/or change thresholds.

  • RMP elements – add additional compliance requirements, including possibly the following:

    • Measurements and metrics element – to provide more specific information

    • Management review and continuous improvement requirements – to enhance management and hazard review efforts

    • Process safety competency requirements – for personnel and available information

    • Stop work authority – to be available to more personnel

    • Ultimate work authority – to focus responsibilities

    • Other elements

  • RMP elements – expand and strengthen existing provisions, such as:
    • Contractor safety practices and oversight
    • Enhanced process hazard assessments
    • Enhanced pre-startup reviews
    • Reviews, updates and revisions – expand these requirements
    • Mechanical integrity requirements – extend to all “safety-critical equipment”
    • Require owners and operators to manage organizational changes
    • Require third-party compliance audits
    • Ensure explicit linkage of ARP and PSM compliance activities, if both apply
    • Other possible changes – EPA provides a list of 12 topics:
    • Safer Technology and Alternatives Analysis
    • Emergency Drills To Test a Source's Emergency Response Program or Plan
    • Automated Detection and Monitoring for Releases of Regulated Substances
    • Additional Stationary Source Location Requirements
    • Compliance With Emergency Response Program Requirements in Coordination With Local Responders
    • Incident Investigation and Accident History Requirements
    • Worst Case Release Scenario Quantity Requirements for Processes Involving Numerous Small Vessels Stored Together
    • Public Disclosure of Information To Promote Regulatory Compliance and Improve Community Understanding of Chemical Risks
    • Threshold Quantities and OCA Endpoints for Regulated Substances Based on Acute Exposure Guideline Level Toxicity Values
    • Program 3 Industry Codes Based on RMP Accident History Data
    • The “Safety Case” Regulatory Model
    • Streamlining RMP Requirements.

Comments are due by October 29, 2014.

Self-Assessment Checklist

Does the organization own or operate any facility with any “stationary source” subject to ARP requirements?

  • If so, has the organization considered the impacts on its operations and compliance position of each potential change under consideration by EPA, if applicable?

Does the organization own or operate any facility with which would become subject to ARP requirements if EPA adopted any of the revisions to listing and threshold quantity provisions identified in the request for information?

Where Can I Go For More Information?

Specialty Technical Publishers (STP) provides a variety of single-law and multi-law services, intended to facilitate clients’ understanding of and compliance with requirements. These include:

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photo credit: Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection via photopin cc

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