New risk management rule would get rid of third-party audits criticized by IIAR; hearing June 14.
The administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, E. Scott Pruitt, last week signed, and submitted to the Federal Register, a proposed rule that would eliminate several provisions of the final Risk Management Program Amendments rule issued on January 13, 2017.
In particular, the EPA is proposing to “rescind amendments relating to safer technology and alternatives analyses, third-party audits, incident investigations, information availability, and several other minor regulatory changes,” said the EPA in a prepublication release of the proposed rule.
The EPA is also proposing to modify amendments relating to local emergency coordination and emergency exercises, and to change the compliance dates for these provisions.
The agency will hold a public hearing on the proposal at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., on June 14, 2018 .
“We welcome the proposed EPA rule,” said Lowell Randel, director of government affairs, International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR), and principal, The Randel Group. “It acknowledges many of the concerns we raised in the original rule-making process by proposing to rescind the independent third-party audit provision and the information-sharing provision.”
The Risk Management Program (RMP) is a longstanding EPA regulation calling for safety measures in plants with dangerous chemicals, including those with more than 10,000 lbs of ammonia. The RMP-update rule, which was created by the Obama administration in the wake of a deadly ammonia fertilizer explosion at a plant in West, Texas, in 2013, was finalized shortly before President Trump took office but was then delayed until February of next year.
“We feel like there's going to be an opportunity for IIAR to play a lead role in communicating where we think this rule can be improved,”
– Lowell Randel, IIAR
The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) has objected to several elements of the RMP-update rule, and plans to submit comments on the proposed rule.
“We feel like there's going to be an opportunity for IIAR to play a lead role in communicating where we think this rule can be improved,” said Randel in March at the IIAR Natural Refrigeration Conference & Expo in Colorado Springs, Colo.
One option that may be under consideration to address the independent auditor issue could be for facilities to pay the EPA to conduct risk management plan (RMP) audits itself. The challenge for some facility operators, especially those in rural areas, is finding qualified auditors that they have not done business with in the past two years, as required by the rule.