Handling Extremely Hazardous Chemicals – A Discussion of the General Duty Clause Reply

In the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, Congress enacted Section 112(r)(1), also known as the General Duty Clause (GDC), which makes the owners and operators of facilities that use listed or other extremely hazardous substances responsible for ensuring that their chemicals are managed safely. The General Duty Clause applies to any facility producing, processing, handling, or storing extremely hazardous substances (i.e., any chemicals listed in 40 CFR Part 68, or any other chemicals which may be considered extremely hazardous).

Although the GDC appears in the Chemical Accident Prevention Program (aka Risk Management Plan (RMP)) regulations, it does not compel subject facilities to prepare and implement an RMP. Instead, facilities subject to the GDC (i.e.  any facility with extremely hazardous substances) are required to:

  • Identify and understand the hazards associated with the extremely hazardous substances used (hazard assessment)
  • Design and maintain a safe facility (prevention program)
  • Minimize the consequences of accidental releases that do occur (emergency response program)

Without specific regulatory requirements to follow, many facilities find it difficult to know if they have satisfied their obligations under the GDC. To demonstrate due diligence we recommend  the following:

  • Conduct a hazard analysis / review using experience, analytical methods such as HAZOP, or creative methods such as what-if brainstorming
  • Identify the consequences of the release identified in the hazard analysis / review
  • Adopt best industry practices, codes or consensus standards
  • Understand the unique site situations that may require specific accident prevention techniques
  • Apply lessons learned from accidents and incidents in similar operations
  • Develop an emergency response plan
  • Develop standard operating procedures, training programs, management of change procedures, an incident investigation program, self-audits involving a third party, and a preventative maintenance program
  • Identify at-risk receptors in the event of a maximum possible release and alternative release scenarios identified in the hazard analysis/review
  • Coordinate interaction needed between facility management, employees, and local response agencies

If you have questions on the GDC or the RMP program, consider attending our free webinar on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Please register  on our website at http://www.capaccio.com.

For more information on this topic, you may also contact Christine Silverman at 508.970.0033 ext. 127  or csilverman@capaccio.com.

Have You Reviewed Your Risk Management Plan/Process Safety Management Program Lately? Reply

In accordance with US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations at 40 CFR 68.79, facilities required to maintain Risk Management Plans (RMP) must audit their programs at least once every three years. Similarly, in accordance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations at 29 CFR 1910.119(o), facilities required to maintain Process Safety Management (PSM) programs must also conduct program audits every three years.

Some important points:
• Audits must be completed by a team, with at least one team member who is knowledgeable
about the process
• All findings must be documented
• All actions to address audit findings must be documented
• The audit must contain a certification that the audit evaluated the program

Some common audit findings include:
• Inadequate development of one or more program elements
• Inadequate documentation of program activities (particularly mechanical integrity programs)
• Hazard assessments are not adequate or not available, or no documentation of follow-up
activities exists
• Operating procedures not certified annually
• Management of change program not implemented
• Contractor safety program not implemented

EPA and OSHA are routinely conducting audits – be ready. CAPACCIO has experience developing and auditing RMP and PSM programs for a variety of different industries. If you would like to find out more, please contact Chris Walton, PE, BCEE, at (508) 970-0033 ext. 139 or at cwalton@capaccio.com.

The EPA Considers Potential Revisions to its Risk Management Program Reply

On July 24th, 2014,the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Request for Information (RFI), soliciting public input on potential revisions to its Risk Management Program (RMP) with the goal of modernizing its regulations as mandated by the federal government under Executive Order 13650: Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. The ultimate purpose of the proposed rules is to prevent major chemical accidents such as the West, Texas explosion that occurred at the West Fertilizer facility on April 17, 2013. OSHA already issued a similar RFI on December 9, 2013 for its Process Safety Management (PSM) standard and while the EPA was not explicitly required to publish an RFI, its RMP regulation is so closely tied to PSM that the agency decided to act in parallel with OSHA.

Both the RMP and PSM regulations affect facilities with processes that utilize chemicals in quantities above established thresholds (both the EPA and OSHA developed threshold quantity lists). Facilities that fall under PSM or RMP must put in place a series of management systems and maintain certain required documentation, which are intended to improve chemical process safety and prevent catastrophes.

The EPA’s RFI requests much of the same information as OSHA’s, such as data on the economic impacts and safety benefits of amending the regulation. Both agencies are also considering adding new substances to their lists of regulated substances and adopting additional management system requirements. Proposed rules that may be of particular interest include:

•Requiring third party auditors for Compliance Audits
Like OSHA, the EPA is also considering requiring third-party auditors to conduct compliance audits, which are required at least every three years.The current requirement is only that at least one person “knowledgeable in the process” be part of the compliance audit team.

•Revising the scope of Mechanical Integrity to include safety-critical equipment
Mechanical integrity requires inspections and maintenance procedures of piping systems, valves, storage tanks, pressure vessels, relief and vent systems and devices, emergency shutdown systems controls (including monitoring devices, sensors, alarms, and interlocks) and pumps, but the EPA believes including safety-critical equipment will help improve chemical processing safety.

•Add stationary source location requirements to Process Hazard Analysis (PHA)
While facility siting must be addressed in a PHA, the EPA is considering expanding the specific requirements. For example, they are considering adding the establishment of buffer or setback zones to RMP requirements—these zones would be distances from the potential danger where it would be safe to house certain occupancies, such as control rooms, cafeterias, or contractor trailers. The idea behind this is to separate the public and other facilities from consequences of process incidents.

•Changing the criteria for Worst Case Release Scenarios to include quantities of aggregate vessels stored in close proximity
The RMP regulation currently requires facilities to determine the maximum quantity of a regulated substance release from a vessel, but does not require sites to take into account numerous small vessels of hazardous substances.

For a complete list of proposed RMP rules see the EPA’s RFI:
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/07/31/2014-18037/accidental-release-prevention-requirements-risk-management-programs-under-the-clean-air-act-section

The public will have until October 29th, 2014 to submit written comments online, http://www.regulations.gov (the portal for federal rulemaking), or by mail.
To view information on Executive Order 13650:
http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/eo_improving_chem_fac.htm

OSHA’s RFI for the PSM regulations can be found here:
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/12/09/2013-29197/process-safety-management-and-prevention-of-major-chemical-accidents

For more information, please contact Alex Wong Berman at 508.970.0033 ext. 126 or aberman@capaccio.com.

CAPACCIO’s Linda Swift to present 527 CMR 33 at CMBEN Reply

Linda Swift, CAPACCIO’s Manager of the EH&S Compliance and Systems Group, will present New Hazardous Materials Processing Regulations and Preventive Emergency Planning  at the upcoming Central Massachusetts Business Environmental Network (CMBEN) meeting on September 11  from 9-11 a.m. The meeting is in partnership with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and will be held at WRCC, 446 Main Street, Suite 200. There is no cost for this meeting, however space is limited, so please register soon. To register, e-mail Mary Hubbard of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce at mhubbard@worcesterchamber.org, or call her at (508) 753-2924.

Ms. Swift’s presentation will delve into the wide scope of the new Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (DFS) Hazardous Material Processing regulation (527 CMR 33), which involves compliance to requirements of a number of agencies. Ms. Swift will talk about the applicability of and compliance to 527 CMR 33, and include the scope of the regulation, exemptions, determining applicability to the regulation, how to achieve compliance with the regulation, and other requirements that may be applicable.

Rick Reibstein of the Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance will discuss the requirements in the context of emergency planning generally and how an efficient response will include an examination of options for accident and pollution prevention, as well as combining related compliance and performance efforts.

For more information on the new regulation and how it may pertain to your facility, please contact Linda Swift at 508-970-0033 x119 or lswift@capaccio.com.