Section 112(r) was added to the amended Clean Air Act following several catastrophic explosions and other releases of toxic chemicals which resulted in loss of life and property due to the lack of proper safety precautions. Its objective is to prevent accidental releases of regulated substances and other extremely hazardous substances to the air and to minimize the consequences of such releases if they do occur by emphasizing preventative measures for those chemicals which are believed to pose the greatest risk.
The Accidental Release Prevention Program rule focuses on accident prevention efforts primarily at the local level, where the risk is found, with the goal of government and the public working with industry to reduce risk. USEPA coordinated with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation to minimize programmatic inconsistencies and overlap and has developed a coordination letter, similar to a Memorandum of Understanding, to facilitate regional inspections by a joint task force of USEPA and OSHA personnel. To a large extent, the rule builds upon existing programs and standards. In the final analysis, the rule closes the "loop" of existing programs which were intended to respond to emergency releases only. In contrast, the rule is intended to prevent emergency releases from occurring.
Among the provisions of section 112(r) are the identification of hazards within a facility which could result in a release, the design and maintenance of a safe facility, and the development of response actions to be taken in the event of a release. The section 112(r) also requires USEPA to promulgate a list of substances which were known to cause, or were reasonably anticipated to cause, death, injury, or serious adverse effects to human health or the environment upon release. USEPA set thresholds for each listed (63) flammable and (77) toxic substances on January 31, 1994 (59 FR 4478).
The Clean Air Act (CAA) also established a Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSHIB) to investigate or prompt the investigation of the causes of chemical accidents and to report its findings to Congress and other authorities. Additionally, USEPA was directed to complete studies on accidental releases, such as the effects of a hydrogen fluoride release, air dispersion modeling, and hazard assessments.
Section 304 of the CAA also requires OSHA to promulgate a chemical process safety standard in order to protect employees from hazards associated with accidental releases of highly hazardous chemicals in the workplace. This Process Safety Management (PSM) standard was promulgated on February 24, 1992 (57 FR 6356).
While the section 112(r) rule and the OSHA PSM standard do have some similar provisions (e.g., process hazard analysis, training, safety audits, and emergency response), there are several important differences. The OSHA PSM standard is intended to protect workers from chemical accidents at facilities using highly toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive substances. USEPA's much broader mandate is to protect public health and the environment. Also, sources subject to section 112(r) requirements must submit a risk management plan (RMP) which includes an offsite consequence analysis, a five-year accident history and a compliance certification. Approximately 87,600 sources in the United States are subject to OSHA's PSM standard, while USEPA estimates that approximately 66,000 sources are subject to the section 112(r) rule.
On June 20, 1996, USEPA promulgated a risk management program for the prevention of accidental chemical releases as required by section 112(r)(7) of the CAA (61 FR 31668). Under 40 CFR Part 68, sources are required to register with the implementing agency, conduct a hazard assessment of the premises, develop emergency response and prevention programs, and submit a summary of the risk management program to a centralized location for review by the implementing agency, USEPA, other state and local agencies, and the general public.
The owner or operator of a stationary source that exceeds the threshold quantity of a regulated substance in a process must comply with the requirements of 40 CFR Part 68 by no later than the latest of the following dates:
June 21, 1999; three years after the date a regulated substance first appears in 40 CFR 68. 130; or the date on which a regulated substance is first present above the threshold quantity in a process.
In the CAA, Congress has mandated that USEPA develop electronic submission of section 112(r)-related information and USEPA has formed a workgroup to develop the basic mechanisms. Illinois EPA supports USEPA's efforts in establishing an electronic submittal process. However, Illinois EPA will be prepared to accept the hard copy registration and RMP executive summaries if such a process is not functional by the June 21, 1999 deadline.
Sources which use, store, handle, or manufacture any of the section 112(r) substances at or above its listed threshold at any one time and in any one process must implement a risk management program and comply with the requirements of 40 CFR Part 68.
The types of sources which are covered by the rule include chemical manufacturers, petrochemical industries, electronics, paper, and machinery firms, agricultural manufacturers, drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities, utilities, refrigeration plants, propane retailers, federal sources, and others. Types of federal sources potentially subject to the section 112(r) rule include defense facilities, correctional institutions, and research facilities. Information on such sources is usually restricted for security reasons. Prior to 1995, federal sources were not required to report toxics release or chemical inventory information on hazardous substances at their installations. Information on defense facilities which may be subject to section 112(r) can be obtained by contacting the General Information Office of the U.S. Department of Defense at (703) 545-6700.
Based upon their processes, sources which are subject to section 112(r) are assigned to one of three levels of compliance, known as programs. Eligibility for any given program is based upon the following process criteria: the potential for offsite consequences, accident history, and compliance with the prevention program requirements of OSHA's PSM standard. A single source may have processes which fall into Programs 1, 2, and/or 3. Generally speaking, the processes in Program 1 are simple and associated with minimal effects to the surrounding community and/or the environment following an off-site impact from an accidental release.
In order for a process to be eligible for Program 1, the accident release history must meet the specified criteria for the last five years, the distance to the toxic or flammable endpoint for the worst-case release assessment must be less than the distance to the nearest public receptor, and the emergency response procedures must be coordinated between the facility and the local emergency planning response organizations. If a regulated substance was accidentally released within the last five years, exposure to either the substance, its reaction products, the explosion over-pressure, or radiant heat effects must not have resulted in death, injury, or response or restoration activities for any environmental receptors.
Any process which is deemed ineligible for Program 1 and has not specifically been assigned to Program 3 is subject to the default program - Program 2.
A process is assigned by rule to Program 3 if it does not meet the eligibility requirements of Program 1, and if either of the following conditions is met:
If at any time a covered process no longer meets the eligibility criteria of its program level, the owner or operator must comply with the applicable new program requirements and update the risk management plan accordingly.
Under the OSHA PSM standard, owners or operators of sources in which processes involving threshold amounts of highly hazardous chemicals or more than 10,000 pounds of a flammable liquid or gas must evaluate their workplace procedures and equipment against the OSHA standard. In several cases, the threshold quantities of PSM substances are different from those under the section 112(r) program. Included in the evaluation of workplace procedures and equipment is an examination of process safety information, process technology and equipment, hazard analysis, development and implementation of standard operating procedures, documented employee training, pre-startup safety reviews, and management methods for process changes. The PSM standard primarily regulates sources in the following SIC codes:
A list of sources subject to the PSM standard can be obtained from the Illinois State Department of Labor. The request should specify the area requested for those sources (Illinois and Chicago) and the nearest regional OSHA office. The list identifies the name of the source, its physical location, telephone number, SIC code(s), number of employees, and the owner's mailing address.
Prevention measures taken by sources which meet the PSM standard requirements are considered to be sufficient for section 112(r)'s prevention program requirements.
A source may have to comply with some 112(r) requirements even if they do not have any processes that use any of the listed substances above the thresholds. If a source uses any extremely hazardous substance regardless of the volume, the source must still comply with section 112(r)'s 'general duty clause'. A source complying with the 'general duty clause' is not required to complete an RMP, but must
The Decision Tree in Figure 1 will assist in section 112(r) applicability and program determination. Table 1 provides the specific requirements for each program.
Figure 1: Section 112(r) Applicability Decision Tree
|Program 1||Program 2||Program 3|
(§ 68.10 (b))
(§ 68.10 (c))
(§ 68.10 (d))
(§ 68.12 (b))
(§ 68.12 (c))
(§ 68.12 (d))