Final RMP Rule Changes
Rule Changing Background
In 2017, several RMP rule changes were proposed, which we previously covered. On November 20, 2019, the EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, signed the final Risk Management Program Reconsideration final rule. The EPA says this about the change: “[It] modifies and improves the existing rule to remove burdensome, costly, unnecessary amendments while maintaining appropriate protections and ensuring first responders have access to all of the necessary safety information. This rule also resolves important security concerns.”
Proposed Changes which were Rescinded
Several changes were proposed in 2017 which found wide-spread disagreement. After receiving petitions for reconsideration from two industry groups and a group of states, several proposed changes were rescinded. Here is a summary:
- All requirements for compliance audits to be performed by a third-party were removed.
- The requirement for certain industries to perform a safer technology and alternatives analysis (STAA) was removed.
- The words, “for each covered process,” were removed from the compliance audit provisions.
- The requirement to include incident investigation findings in the hazard review was removed.
- The following incident investigation requirements were removed: conducting a root cause analysis, a schedule to address recommendations with 12 months, and incident investigations being necessary if the process is decommissioned or destroyed.
- Explicit requirements for supervisors to be trained was removed.
- The requirement to provide information to the public upon request was removed.
- Definitions were also rescinded which correspond to the changes above (e.g. third-party audit).
- The changes to the RMP Submit section were also updated to remove references to the changes that were rescinded (e.g. date of most recent safer technology and alternatives analysis).
Summary of the New Laws
While many proposed changes were rescinded, a handful of substantial changes were retained or modified. Here is a summary of the new requirements:
- The annual emergency response coordination requirement that was proposed in 2017 was retained without modifications. Read this blog to see how Resource Compliance developed the ERPWriter application to help satisfy this new requirement.
- Title 40 CFR §68.95(a)(4) previously said the Emergency Response Programs needed to include, “Procedures to review and update, as appropriate, the emergency response plan to reflect changes at the stationary source and ensure that employees are informed of changes.” The following sentence has been added: “The owner or operator shall review and update the plan as appropriate based on changes at the stationary source or new information obtained from coordination activities, emergency response exercises, incident investigations, or other available information, and ensure that employees are informed of the changes.”
- Perhaps the most significant change is the addition of §68.96 regarding Emergency Response Exercises. You can read the full text, but here is a summary:
- Facilities must annually test their notification mechanism to notify emergency responders when there is a need for response. The records of these notifications need to be kept for five (5) years. This requirement applies to all Program 2 and Program 3 facilities.
- For responding facilities, Emergency Response Field Exercises and Tabletop Exercises need to be performed. The Field Exercises should include testing procedures such as evacuations, medical treatment, communications systems, etc. The Tabletop Exercises should involve discussions of the ERP and needs to be completed at least every (3) years. Evaluation reports need to be generated within 90 days for each exercise.
- There are alternate means of meeting the exercise requirements for responding facilities, such as a response to an actual incident. In this case, an evaluation report would need to be generated similar to when a report is generated after an exercise.
- Another significant change is the addition of §68.210(b): “Public meetings. The owner or operator of a stationary source shall hold a public meeting to provide information required under §68.42(b), no later than 90 days after any RMP reportable accident at the stationary source with any known offsite impact specified in §68.42(a).” This means facilities will need to hold a public meeting if an accident release results in offsite deaths, injuries, evacuations, sheltering in place, property damage, or environmental damage.
For a more detailed description of the changes, refer to the EPA’s fact sheet.
Rollout Schedule for Complying with the New Rules
Fortunately, not all these changes are in effect today. Here is the EPA’s schedule for when your facility must implement these changes:
 https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OEM-2015-0725-2002 Section A. Chemical Accident Prevention Provisions
 Title 40 CFR §68.90(b)(5) The owner or operator performs the annual notification exercises required under §68.96(a).