09 April 2004 22:39 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Friday that chemical facilities must update their risk management plans (RMPs) within six months of an accidental release.
In a final rule issued today, the EPA requires that chemical plants add information about accidents to RMPs within six months of an accident. Previously, companies could take as long as five years to include accident data in updated RMPs.
The final rule announced today takes effect 21 June.
The EPA said: "The agency continues to believe that facilities will be more likely to recall and report accurate accident history information if that information is recorded within six months of an accident."
The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) recommended the action last year, the EPA said.
The EPA modified an original proposal that would have required that a chemical plant that suffers a significant accident do a full update and resubmit a new 5-year RMP to the agency. RMPs generally provide the cause of a release and measures taken to reduce the risk of consequences if a similar accident were to repeat itself, according to the EPA.
The EPA explained in a document detailing the rule that the agency understood the concerns of stakeholders that resubmitting a completely revised RMP may not be possible within six months of an accident.
"A thorough investigation of a major accident, implementation of any new safety measures and updating of the entire RMP could take longer, particularly for larger sources," the agency noted.
The agency also made other revisions to the RMP requirement today. The rule removes the requirement that facilities include in RMP executive summaries a description of the off-site consequence analysis (OCA) contained in the main report. It also requires facilities to include more comprehensive emergency contact information.
In addition, the EPA clarified today that the deadline for updating RMPs submitted before 21 June 1999 is 21 June this year, except for any chemical plants required to submit earlier updates due to changes at their facilities.
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