In 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); EPA Accidental Release Prevention (ARP) program and Emergency Planning and Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) program; and Department of Homeland Security Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program (I wrote 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?