Changes Proposed to Chemical Risk Program

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2022


After review, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed amendments to its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations.

Specifically, the changes and amplifications will affect programs under the Clean Air Act; Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention.

Risk Management Background

Per Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act Amendments, the EPA is required to publish regulations and guidance for chemical accident prevention at facilities using certain hazardous materials. These same regulations and guidance are contained in the RMP rule.

As part of the current rule, facilities using these hazardous substances are required to develop a Risk Management Plan that is then revised and resubmitted to the EPA every five years. These plans are required to address the following:

  • Identify the potential effects of a chemical accident;
  • Identify steps the facility is taking to prevent an accident; and
  • Spell out emergency response procedures should an accident occur.

Additionally, the plans also provide information to local fire, police and emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies in their community.

According to reports, however, some of the RMP amendments made in 2017 were scaled back while former President Donald J. Trump was in office.

What Now

At the end of August, the EPA published a proposed rule with the goal of amending its RMP regulations.

As outlined in the summary, the proposed revisions include several changes and amplifications to the accident prevention program requirements, enhancements to the emergency preparedness requirements, increased public availability of chemical hazard information, and several other changes to certain regulatory definitions or points of clarification.

Proposed updates to the RMP include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Hazard evaluation and accident prevention amplifications;
  • Safer technology and alternatives analysis (STAA), including facility density & hydrogen fluoride (HF) requirements;
  • Root cause analysis;
  • Third-party compliance audits;
  • Employee participation obligations, including recommendation decisions, stop work authority, and accident and non-compliance reporting;
  • Emergency response exercises;
  • Community notification of RMP accidents and community emergency response plan amplifications;
  • Information availability and process safety information requirements;
  • Compliance requirements with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices (RAGAGEP) for Program 2 and 3 facilities;
  • Retention of hot work permits; and
  • Storage incident to transportation standards.

The EPA will be hosting three consecutive virtual public hearings on the proposal at the end of the month, with the first taking place on Sept. 26. The hearings can be accessed here.

The EPA will also be accepting comments on the proposal, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2022-0174, until Oct. 31.

Additional Chemical News

Earlier this year, in March, the EPA announced a new research program under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) with the goal of modernizing the process and bringing innovative science to the review of new chemicals before they enter the market.

According to the EPA at the time, the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) was proposing the development and implementation of a multi-year collaborative research program in partnership with the Agency’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) and other federal entities focused on approaches for performing risk assessments on new chemical substances under TSCA.

Through the partnership, the program aims to bring innovative science to new chemical reviews, modernize the approaches used and increase the transparency of the human health and ecological risk assessment process.

The multi-year research program will refine existing approaches and develop and implement new approach methodologies (NAMs) to ensure the best available science is used in TSCA new chemical evaluations.

Key areas proposed in the TSCA New Chemicals Collaborative Research Program include:

  • Updating OCSPP’s approach using data from structurally similar chemicals to determine potential risks from new chemicals, also known as read-across. This will increase the efficiency of new chemical reviews promoting the use of the best available data to protect human health and the environment;
  • Digitizing and consolidating information on chemicals to include data and studies that currently only exist in hard copy or in disparate TSCA databases. The information will be combined with publicly available sources to expand the amount of information available, enhancing chemical reviews and enabling efficient sharing of chemical information across EPA. Safeguards for confidential business information will be maintained as appropriate in this process;
  • Updating and augmenting the models used for predicting a chemical’s physical-chemical properties and environmental fate/transport, hazard, exposure, and toxicokinetics to provide a suite of models to be used for new chemicals assessments. The goal of this effort is to update the models to reflect the best available science, increase transparency, and establish a process for updating these models as science evolves;
  • Exploring ways to integrate and apply NAMs in new chemicals assessments, reducing the use of animal - testing. As this effort evolves, the goal is to develop a suite of accepted, fit-for-purpose NAMs that could be used by external stakeholders for data submissions under TSCA as well as informing and expanding new chemical categories; and
  • Developing a decision support tool that integrates the various information streams specifically used for new chemical risk assessments. The decision support tool will more efficiently integrate all the data streams (e.g., chemistry, fate, exposures, hazards) into a final risk assessment and transparently document the decisions and assumptions made. Simply put, this will facilitate the new chemicals program tracking decisions over time and evaluating consistency within and across chemistries.

The EPA hosted a virtual public meeting on April 20 and April 21 to provide an overview of the TSCA New Chemicals Collaborative Research Program. The meeting provided individual stakeholders time to share their input on the program.

Later this year, the EPA plans to release a revised version of the collaborative research plan for an additional public comment period and peer review by the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC).

   

Tagged categories: Clean Air Act; Construction chemicals; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA; Good Technical Practice; Hazardous air pollutants; hazardous materials; Hazards; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; Regulations; Safety

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