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Emergency Planning

January 2014

In August 2013, the President responded to a recent flurry of chemical accidents and explosions, by approving Executive Order 13650, entitled “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security.” Click here to read the Executive Order. The intent of this order is to enhance hazard identification and emergency planning, promote coordination and communication amongst all levels of government, and to improve information collection and sharing.

EPA/New England and OSHA recently sponsored a forum to discuss plans and initiatives that are being implemented in response to EO13650. In general terms, the federal agencies (EPA, OSHA, ATF, USCG and Homeland Security) have been instructed to step up data collection and more aggressively review and manage facilities storing/using large volumes of high hazard materials. The following bullets highlight key action areas for the federal agencies:

  • Agencies have been instructed to modernize and standardize their electronic reports and submittals to support data mining and cross referencing. The intent is to enable agencies to use one program’s data to identify facilities that should have, but have not acted/filed under other required programs. EPA and OSHA expect to use this approach to quickly identify additional facilities that should have reported under EPCRA - TRI, Process Safety Management (PSM), and the Clean Air Act Risk Management Program (RMP).

  • EPA/New England has used a test method to locate and initiate enforcement action against 30 local facilities that had not developed RMP plans. In addition, EPA reports that these new strategies have enabled them to collect enough pre-audit data so that approximately 85% of the time, they have identified a likely violation before visiting a site.

  • The Tier II notification form has been significantly revised to incorporate new health and safety information made available by the adoption of the Globally Harmonized System, and to provide more accurate and descriptive chemical reporting. Reporters will also need to report their TRI and RMP status, while also confirming whether or not they use Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS).

  • A certification statement that incorporates additional legal penalties has been added to the Tier II. As a result, a corporate official must certify the document and attest to the accuracy of the information provided.

  • Pursuant to EPCRA, all PSM and RMP facilities, and EHS reporters must support the local/regional emergency planning committee and actively support local emergency planning efforts. EPA expects these facilities to attend and participate in meetings of the LEPC and REPC.

  • EPA has been instructed to use the General Duty Clause enacted under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act to more aggressively identify and manage RMP facilities. Current guidance would allow EPA to apply and utilize industry standards as consensus standards in a manner consistent to how OSHA applies these standards.

  • OSHA has been instructed to more broadly interpret the PSM standard pending the revision of the standard. A key change relates to the management of atmospheric storage tanks. A legal decision known as the Meer Decision had prevented OSHA from requiring tank farms from developing PSM programs. Recent court decisions have impacted that ruling and broaden the field of regulated facilities and extend coverage to a number of tank systems that were previously unregulated.

  • Homeland Security will also be stepping up compliance with the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) These standards require facilities that maintain high hazard materials above a threshold planning quantity to conduct an initial pre-screen. If merited, additional screening, planning and agency consultation may be required. Common industrial products that are regulated materials include: ammonia, ammonium nitrate, hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, nitric acid, potassium cyanide, and sodium cyanide.

Review your compliance status -- Are you prepared for the federal government's renewed interest in emergency planning?

The bottom line is that the federal government is taking a renewed interest in the management of high hazard materials and emergency planning.

Loureiro encourages our contacts and clients to review their use and reporting of these materials to ensure that you have adequately identified your compliance requirements, and have developed and implemented an effective management and response plan for utilizing these materials. Our staff has decades of experience in hazard analysis, chemical management and emergency planning. 
For additional support and assistance with your compliance efforts, please contact Todd Dresser at 603.625.8899 or contact Jeremy Paradis at 860.747.6181.

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