The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is constantly striving to ensure businesses, big or small, are keeping our environment safe. They accomplish this through new regulations and initiatives. One such initiative is titled “Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities.” In 2022 alone, the EPA concluded 3 judicial actions, 145 administration penalty actions, and 18 administrative compliance orders. Through an increase in on-site inspections, the agency plans to continue cracking down on reducing risks of accidental releases in the years to come.
What is the EPA inspecting for?
During these on-site inspections, EPA inspectors are determining whether a facility using hazardous chemicals has conducted a hazard analysis. This check is to ensure compliance with both the Risk Management Program (RMP) and General Duty Clause (GDC) under the Clean Air Act (CAA Section 112(r)). While the Risk Management Program is only applicable to facilities that use hazardous chemicals in a process above a threshold quantity, the General Duty Clause applies to any facility using regulated chemicals, regardless of the quantity of chemical involved.
What chemicals are considered hazardous or regulated?
A full list of regulated substances can be found in the following link: https://www.epa.gov/rmp/list-regulated-substances-under-risk-management-program-program.
While the full list of regulated substances contains hazardous chemicals common to several industries, ammonia used in refrigeration is often overlooked. Under the General Duty Clause, even an ammonia refrigeration system under the threshold quantity of 10,000 pounds requires a hazard review.
What constitutes completing a hazard review?
To satisfy a hazard review, facilities need to identify hazards that may result from accidental releases through an appropriate hazard assessment technique, design and maintain a safe facility, take necessary precautions to prevent accidental releases, and minimize the consequences of accidental releases that do occur. Appropriate hazard assessment techniques include What-If, Checklist, What-If/Checklist Hybrid, Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP), Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Fault Tree Analysis (FTA), or an equivalent methodology. All components of the hazard review need to be recorded and maintained for review by an EPA inspector.
What can I do to be prepared?
If you believe your facility needs to conduct a hazard review for any regulated chemicals, or you would like a second opinion if your facility needs one, Conversion Technology, Inc. (CTI) can provide consulting assistance to ensure that your facility is ready for a surprise EPA inspection. CTI has had over 30 years of experience working with industrial facilities to assist with process hazard analyses and risk management plans. This includes determining facility applicability to the RMP and GDC, leading hazard analysis (primarily HAZOPs or What-If/Checklist Hybrids), and documenting all necessary components of a hazard review across various industries. We will be happy to assist you with whatever consulting services you are in need of.