Chemical facilities and other industries were given a reprieve last month on complying with the amendment to the Obama-era federal Risk Management Program (RMP) requirements requiring additional public notice, reporting, accident prevention and emergency response planning obligations for facilities that use or store certain high-risk substances. The 20-month extension means the rule will not become effective until February 19, 2019, giving the EPA additional time to reconsider the rule and also allowing for additional comment opportunities, according to a blog article from law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP.
The RMP amendments were drafted in 2013, following several catastrophic chemical facility incidents, including an explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas, and the EPA issued the final amendments just a week before President Trump took office.
The law firm says facilities in the chemical, petrochemical and petroleum sectors would be “subject to the most onerous new requirements, including process hazard analysis to identify potential inherently safer technologies, more regular and detailed coordination with local officials, and requirements for root cause analysis and third-party compliance auditing following certain releases or near-releases.”
Industry groups say that, if implemented, the amendments will “disincentives for public collaboration, interfere with effective process safety programs and increase security concerns.” On the other hand,environmental groups have argued that EPA’s changes will accomplish the opposite, writes the National Law Review.
The National Association of Manufacturers has long expressed concerns about the final approach to this rule, which it says creates burdens without significant benefits.
“The safety and security of facilities, employees, and communities are paramount to the Associations and their members,” the group said in congressional testimony in February. “The Associations’ members prudently engage in risk management planning, invest in security, and believe that fostering a continued partnership between businesses and federal, state, and local officials is fundamental to ensuring facility safety now and in the future. The Associations observe that certain aspects of the Risk Management Program (RMP) align with industry efforts to achieve these goals.”