The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized a rule amending its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations to reduce the likelihood of accidental releases at chemical facilities and improve emergency response activities when those releases occur. This rule reportedly will help prevent chemical accidents and their effects, such as the explosion in West Texas in 2013. While numerous chemical plants are operated safely, in the last 10 years more than 1,500 accidents were reported by RMP facilities. These accidents are responsible for causing nearly 60 deaths; some 17,000 people being injured or seeking medical treatment; almost 500,000 people being evacuated or sheltered-in-place; and more than $2 billion in property damages.

The Accidental Release Prevention regulations under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act (CAA)—also known as the EPA RMP regulations—require covered facilities to develop and implement a risk management program. EPA shares RMP information with state and local officials to help them plan for and prevent chemical accidents and releases.

“This rule is based on extensive engagement with nearly 1,800 people over the last two and a half years,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “These changes are intended to protect the lives of emergency responders and the public, while preserving information security.”

The amendments are intended to: prevent catastrophic accidents by improving accident prevention program requirements; enhance emergency preparedness to ensure coordination between facilities and local communities; improve information access to help the public understand the risks at RMP facilities; and improve third-party audits at RMP facilities.

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