Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

EPA Revises Accidental Release Prevention Requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Mar 28, 2017

Efforts to prevent and respond to chemical disasters are undergoing their first thorough review since many were created decades ago after December 1984’s catastrophe in Bhopal, India. President Obama triggered these reviews in August 2013, when he issued an Executive Order directing federal regulatory agencies to review specified regulatory programs that are designed to prevent such disasters: Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Chemical Process Safety Management Standard (PSM); Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Accidental Release Prevention (ARP) program and Emergency Planning and Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) program; and Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program (I blogged about the EO here). EPA proposed ARP revisions in March 2016 (I blogged about them here), and adopted final revisions on January 13, 2017.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom

EPA Revises Hazardous Waste Generator Requirements – Part 2 (Separate Summaries For Generator Categories)

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Feb 21, 2017

In November, EPA published substantial regulatory revisions (which EPA entitles collectively as the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule). The revisions are scheduled to become effective on May 30, 2017. In Part 1 of this pair of blogs (click here), I summarized the principal revisions. In this Part 2 I re-compile the changes applicable to different categories of generators:

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom

EPA Revises Hazardous Waste Generator Requirements – Part 1

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Feb 16, 2017

In November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published substantial revisions to its hazardous waste regulations, which it entitles the “Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (HWGIR).” These include more than 60 changes to specific requirements, plus dozens of technical clarifications and corrections. Some requirements apply to nearly all generators, while others are targeted at one or more of three volume-based tiers. EPA has scheduled the revisions to take effect on May 30, 2017 – but it’s possible that some provisions will be reviewed and revised by the incoming Trump Administration before that date.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, Hazcom

EPA Adds Subsurface Intrusion to the Superfund Hazard Ranking System

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jan 10, 2017

On December 7, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised the Hazard Ranking System (HRS) it uses to compare site contamination and to designate the most hazardous sites for the National Priority List (NPL) for cleanup. This revision adds “subsurface intrusion” – i.e., intrusion of hazardous liquids such as contaminated groundwater and/or vapors from subsurface chemical contamination into structures – to the potential pathways to public harm evaluated by HRS when evaluating contaminated sites. This represents the first additional pathway added in nearly three decades. The revisions will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, presumably during the first quarter of 2017.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom

EPA Proposes First Major Reviews of Existing Chemicals Under the 2016 Amendments to TSCA

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Dec 13, 2016

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976 to develop adequate data regarding the effects of chemical substances and mixtures on human health and the environment, and to prevent unduly hazardous chemicals from entering commercial use. Over the next 40 years the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) focused on addressing new chemical substances, and made minimal progress on updating information about the 62,000 chemicals already in commerce when TSCA was enacted, to discern whether those chemicals posed unacceptable hazards. (I summarized basic provisions here). As the exception proving that rule, EPA conducted a decade-long review of asbestos before determining it should be banned, only to have the decision overturned by a federal court finding that the agency hadn’t incorporated adequate cost-benefit analyses.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom, tsca

EPA Revises Hazardous Waste Import-Export Requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Nov 29, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers rules governing the import and export of hazardous waste regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). These rules ensure that the U.S. meets its international responsibilities as a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) by creating national rules that meet agreed-upon OECD standards.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Criticizes EPA’s Environmental Justice Efforts

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 18, 2016

In September 2016, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) issued its annual “Statutory Enforcement Report for 2016”; this year’s topic is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) efforts to protect and promote “Environmental Justice.” The Commission reviews decades of EPA efforts, and criticizes longstanding inadequacies.

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Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, ghg, Hazcom, RCRA

California Tightens Restrictions On High-Impact Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 11, 2016

Attempts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are more complex than they first appear. Reports in the mass media tend to focus on carbon dioxide (CO2). The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Framework Convention) focuses primarily on six GHGs, including CO2 as well as methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Climate change scientists have identified hundreds of GHGs, with widely varying sources, relative contributions to climate change (numerical “global warming potential (GWP)”, where CO2 is defined as 1.0), and total contribution based on emitted volumes.

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Tags: California Legislation, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom, climate change

RCRA FIRST

Posted by Rebecca Luman on Thu, Oct 06, 2016

To improve the efficiency of RCRA Corrective Action, in 2014, EPA Regions 3 and 7 began a pilot to implement RCRA Corrective Action using Lean process analysis with the goal of clarifying goals and expectations early in the process. The Lean process is a collection of principles and methods that focus on the systematic identification and elimination of non-value-added activity involved in producing a product or delivering a service to customers. Within the RCRA Corrective Action program, the Lean process was used to remove various redundant steps and frontload goals and expectations through a corrective action framework (CAF), resulting in significant time savings.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, Hazcom, RCRA

EPA Proposes Next Step Toward e-Manifests

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Sep 29, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). These regulations include a detailed national system governing hazardous waste shipments from generators to offsite management facilities. In October 2012, RCRA was amended by the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act, authorizing EPA to implement a national electronic manifest system. In 2014, EPA adopted regulations to govern the new electronic system (I blogged about the rules here), but deferred compliance provisions (including specific electronic formats) while the agency continues to work on its data collection and management system.

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Tags: Environmental, EPA, Hazcom, RCRA