Bioterrorism & Chemical Security
On March 14, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed much-anticipated amendments to the Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations. This column summarizes the proposed amendments and industry’s response to them.
The genesis of the proposal is President Obama’s Executive Order (EO) 13650, which was issued in the aftermath of the catastrophic explosion that occurred in April 2013 that claimed 15 lives in West, Texas. The EO requires various federal agencies to develop options for better chemical facility safety and security that identify “improvements to existing risk management practices through agency programs, private sector initiatives, government guidance, outreach, standards, and regulations.” The EPA’s RMP regulations fall squarely in the zone of interest for purposes of the EO. Required under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act, these regulations, codified at 40 C.F.R. Part 68, apply to stationary sources that hold specified regulated substances in excess of certain thresholds. These “facilities” are required to assess their potential release impacts, undertake steps to prevent releases, plan for emergency response to releases, and summarize this information in a risk management plan submitted to the EPA.
Chemical plant safety is once again in the limelight due to some high profile and very public catastrophes. On January 3, 2014, a federal working group created by the Obama administration’s Executive Order (EO) 13650 issued a set of preliminary options intended to improve chemical plant safety and security. This is a priority topic commanding considerable attention and readers should be aware of and engaged in these developments. This column explains why.
The tragic spill of a chemical into the Elk River in West Virginia that occurred on Jan. 9, 2014, has spurred the development of new legislation. On Jan. 27, 2014, Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) introduced the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014. The regrettable spill and the mismanagement of the spill’s consequences by federal and state regulators reads like a case summary of mistakes to avoid when managing a crisis of epic proportions. The legislation that may emerge from this tragedy could prevent similar events in the future.
On Jan. 3, 2014, a federal working group created by Executive Order 13650 issued a set of preliminary options intended to improve chemical plant security. This is a hot topic likely to command considerable attention in the New Year.
Congress is currently focusing on a key piece of legislation to reauthorize the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), set to expire on October 4. This may lead to measures that are more far reaching and have a more significant impact upon the chemical industry.