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Groups Challenge EPA's Rollback of Chemical Facility Risk Management Standards

Posted on January 20, 2020 by Roger Marks

The United Steelworkers (USW) has filed suit to challenge US EPA’s decision to rescind requirements added to the Clean Air Act Risk Management Plan (RMP) program in 2017.  
 
In April 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion at a fertilizer storage facility in West, Texas killed 15 people, injured more than 100 others, and destroyed dozens of homes. Following this disaster, US EPA expanded the RMP program to require some chemical facilities to conduct root-cause analysis as part of incident investigations. The revised rules also required some facilities to contract with independent third parties to perform compliance audits after a reportable release. 
 
In addition, owners and operators of facilities in the paper, petroleum, coal, and chemical manufacturing industries were required to add a safer technology and alternatives analysis (STAA) to their process hazards analysis (PHA) under the new rule.
 
Read more about the 2017 rule here.
 
Among the largest labor unions in the United States, USW represents workers in a broad range of industries including the chemical industry, metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, glass, and energy production.
 

Why Did EPA Rescind the 2017 RMP Enhancements?

Deeming the recent RMP revisions an “unnecessary regulatory burden,” EPA rescinded nearly all of the requirements added to the accident prevention program in the 2017 rule.  EPA published its Final Rule to rescind the new RMP requirements on December 19, 2019.
 
After reconsidering several parts of the 2017 rule, “EPA has concluded that a better approach is to improve the performance of a subset of facilities by achieving greater compliance with RMP regulations instead of imposing additional regulatory requirements on the larger population of facilities.”

On the same day that EPA rescinded the new release prevention requirements, a group of thirteen organizations also filed suit to challenge the regulatory rollback.  

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