Risk Management Program Amendments Related to Chemical Facilities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced the finalized amendments to the Risk Management Program (RMP) to further protect at-risk communities from chemical accidents, especially those located near facilities in industries with high accident rates.

The “Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention Rule” includes USEPA’s most protective safety provisions for chemical facilities in history, requiring stronger measures for prevention, preparedness, and public transparency. The rule protects the health and safety of all communities by requiring industry to prevent accidental releases of dangerous chemicals that could otherwise cause deaths and injuries, damage property and the environment, or require surrounding communities to evacuate or shelter-in-place.

Final amendments to the rule include:

  • Safer technologies and alternatives analysis requirement
  • Advancing employee participation, training, and opportunities for employee decision-making in facility accident prevention
  • Allowance of a partial or complete process shutdown in the event of a potential catastrophic release
  • Implementation of a process to allow employees and their representatives to anonymously report specific unaddressed hazards.
  • Third-party compliance audits and root cause analysis required in incident investigations for facilities that have had a prior accident.
  • Enhanced facility planning and preparedness efforts to strengthen emergency response by ensuring chemical release information is shared in a timely manner
  • Requirement for regulated facilities to evaluate risks of natural hazards and climate change, including any associated loss of power
  • Increases transparency by providing access to RMP facility information for nearby communities

The final rule covers all 11,740 regulated RMP facilities across the country and contains more rigorous requirements for a subgroup of facilities that are more accident-prone and pose the greatest risk to communities. USEPA estimates that accidental releases from RMP facilities cost society more than $540 million each year. There are approximately 131 million people living within three miles of RMP facilities nationwide.

The rule will be published alongside a query tool which will allow people to access information for RMPs in nearby communities. USEPA intends to update the tool in the coming months to allow visualization of climate change hazards, a request of several stakeholders.

Read more information on the rule visit USEPA’s Risk Management Program rule.