EPA recently published revisions to the reporting requirements of the Chemical Accident Prevention Rule under Clean Air Act section 112(r). Under the rule, covered facilities must submit risk management plans (RMPs) to EPA describing their chemical accident prevention programs. The revised rule removes the requirement for facilities to describe their offsite consequence analysis (OCA) in the executive summary of RMPs, adds several new data elements to RMPs, and requires more timely reporting of significant accidents and changes in emergency contact information.
Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act requires EPA to promulgate regulations for the prevention and mitigation of accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances. Under this section, EPA established a list of regulated substances and thresholds and issued the Chemical Accident Prevention regulations. The goals of this program are to prevent accidental releases of chemicals that could cause serious harm to human health or the environment and to reduce the severity of releases that may occur. Covered facilities are required to develop and implement a risk management program that includes a five-year accident history, an offsite consequence analysis, an accident prevention program, and an emergency response program. Facilities must also submit to EPA a risk management plan (RMP) describing the source’s risk management program.
The original deadline for submitting RMPs was June 21, 1999. The chemical accident prevention regulations also require full updates and resubmissions of RMPs at least once every five years. Certain process and other changes as specified in the Update section of the Chemical Accident Prevention regulation (40 CFR 68.190) may require a facility to fully update and resubmit its RMP prior to the five-year anniversary of an RMP. The five-year anniversary date is reset whenever you fully update and resubmit your RMP.
Most facilities submitted their initial RMPs by the original June 21, 1999 deadline and have not resubmitted their RMPs since. Therefore, the majority of facilities will need to fully update and resubmit their RMPs to EPA by June 21, 2004. All facilities are required to include the new data elements in their RMPs by June 21, 2004, whether they are filing an updated RMP by that date or not. Facilities filing a fully updated RMP by June 21, 2004 will be able to add the new information as part of their update. Facilities not filing a full update by that date must add the information to their RMPs through a correction.
EPA has developed a fact sheet that provides additional information about the reporting deadlines and the recent changes to the RMP reporting requirements. The agency has also published a list of frequently asked questions.
"Power of Change" Teaches Older Americans About Reducing Waste
EPA has launched a new campaign called the "Power of Change" to help older Americans reduce waste.
"This campaign is all about education," said Marianne Lamont Horinko, Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "It lays out simple, everyday changes that will reduce waste, conserve our natural resources and save energy."
The cornerstone of the Power of Change (POC) campaign is a free kit which contains a number of communication resources on what to do with unwanted items when moving; how to safely dispose of home health care products, such as used syringes; how to safely manage household hazardous waste, such as used oil, old paint, and pesticides; and how to organize or get involved in environmental projects in the community.
EPA announced the new campaign in San Francisco at the 2004 Joint Conference of the American Society on Aging and the National Coalition on Aging.
The POC campaign is part of EPA's Resource Conservation Challenge, a national effort to find flexible, yet more protective ways to conserve our valuable resources through waste reduction and energy recovery activities.
The POC campaign is part of EPA's larger efforts to protect the health of older Americans through its Aging Initiative. Established in 2003, EPA's Aging Initiative is an effort to study environmental health threats to older persons; examine the effect that a rapidly growing aging population might have on our environment; and encourage older persons to volunteer in their own communities to reduce hazards and protect the environment.
More information on the Power of Change campaign is available at http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/aging
More information on the Resource Conservation Challenge is available at http://www.epa.gov/rcc
More information on the Aging Initiative is available at http://www.epa.gov/aging
Announcement of a Public Stakeholder Meeting Concerning the Hazardous Waste Generator Regulatory Program
On Friday, April 16, EPA announced a series of Public Stakeholder Meeting Concerning the Hazardous Waste Generator Regulatory Program. For details on the meetings, visit http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-MEETINGS/2004/April/Day-16/m8675.htm
EPA's Office of Solid Waste is holding a series of public meetings in May 2004 to obtain input from its many stakeholders on the effectiveness of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's (RCRA's) hazardous waste generator regulatory program. Concurrent with this effort, the Agency intends to issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) seeking comment on a series of questions related to the RCRA hazardous waste generator regulatory program.
With the information collected from these two efforts, EPA will evaluate and determine whether changes to the hazardous waste generator program are appropriate and, if so, develop and implement a program strategy with the goals of fostering: improved program effectiveness; a pollution prevention stewardship philosophy; and decrease compliance cost where practicable.
The following topics are planned for discussion:
- What areas of the generator program are working well?
- How can we improve the program through the use of innovative solutions and improved technical assistance?
- How can we improve the program through better performance measurements, burden reductions and pollution prevention/recycling?
A tentative agenda is on the Web at http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/gener/init/index.htm.
Thomas V. Skinner Named As Acting Assistant Administrator For the Office of Enforcement
The White House announced on April 2 the appointment of Thomas V. Skinner, as Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Phyllis Harris, the current Acting Assistant Administrator will remain as the Deputy Assistant Administrator.
"Tom's expertise will add strength to our work to motivate compliance by applying consistent and certain enforcement," said Administrator Mike Leavitt. "I also want to thank Phyllis for her skillful management of the Agency's enforcement work; we remain focused on results that protect public health and the environment."
Mr. Skinner is currently the Regional Administrator for the EPA Region 5 in Chicago and was previously Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency before joining EPA (the federal agency) in 2001. He holds a juris doctorate degree from Northwestern University School of Law and an undergraduate degree from Lawrence University. Mr. Skinner will remain the Great Lakes National Program Manager for the Agency.
Bharat Mathur, the current Deputy Regional Administrator, will be the Acting Regional Administrator for EPA Region 5.
EPA Issues Designations on Ozone Health Standards
Thirty-one governors were told by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that areas of their states do not meet new health standards for ground-level ozone. Part or all of 474 counties nationwide are in nonattainment for either failing to meet the 8-hour ozone standard or for causing a downwind county to fail. The vast majority of counties, 2,668 in all, meet the new standards. Ozone aggravates asthma, damages the lining of the lungs and makes breathing more difficult. Some 159 million people live in areas that do not meet the new ozone standard.
At the same time it issued designations on attainment and nonattainment, EPA issued a new rule classifying areas by the severity of their ozone conditions and establishing the deadline state and local governments must meet to reduce ozone levels. Once designations and classifications take effect on June 15, 2004, states and communities must prepare a plan to reduce ground-level ozone.
EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt stressed that the new ozone designations do not represent failure. "This isn't about the air getting dirtier," he said. "The air is getting cleaner. These new rules are about our new understanding of health threats; about our standards getting tougher and our national resolve to meet them."
Many states received good news; 18 entire states are meeting the new more protective standard. EPA finds no nonattainment areas in the northwest or in many of the Great Plains, Rocky Mountain and Great Basin states. The entire population in Iowa, Minnesota, Florida, Mississippi, Vermont, Hawaii and Alaska are breathing air that meets the new standard.
Measures that states and localities may be required to take to control ozone pollution may include stricter controls on emissions from industrial facilities, additional planning requirements for transportation sources or other programs like gasoline vapor recovery controls. EPA plans to work with states and local governments to help develop innovative approaches to meeting the new standard. A nonattainment designation does not mean that an area must curb its growth nor does it mean the loss of highway funds – two common myths associated with ozone designation.
"These ozone standards are strong medicine," Administrator Leavitt wrote the governors. "As a former Governor of Utah, I recognize that having parts of your state designated as being in nonattainment will require more actions on your part to achieve cleaner, healthier air. We need to work together to make certain your state can, as others have in the past, clean the air while sustaining economic growth."
EPA announced a suite of inter-related actions known as the Clean Air Rules of 2004 which include national tools to help states and communities meet the national standard for ground-level ozone. The Clean Air Interstate Rule addresses power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), both of which blow across state lines and significantly impact pollution levels, including ozone pollution, in downwind cities.
EPA's Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule will regulate emissions from construction and other nonroad equipment powered by diesel engines. The rule also cuts sulfur levels in diesel fuel by more than 99 percent over current levels. Both actions will significantly help localities achieve cleaner air.
Thirty areas voluntarily entered into Early Action Compacts (EACs) in 2002, agreeing to have a plan in place to reduce air pollution about two years sooner than required by the Clean Air Act. These communities have had their nonattainment status deferred as a result. These areas must attain the new ozone standard no later than December 31, 2007. Areas must submit satisfactory progress reports to retain their EAC status. Three of the original 33 EAC areas did not meet their requirements (Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee) and are no longer included in the EAC program.
The 8-hour ozone standard, 0.08 parts per million (ppm), averaged over eight hours, replaces the 1-hour standard that has been in place since 1979. The 8-hour standard was issued in 1997 after a significant body of research showed that longer-term exposure to lower levels of ozone can also affect human health. Implementation of the new standard was held up by a lengthy legal battle.
Deadlines for meeting the 8-hour ozone standard range from 2007 to 2021, depending on the severity of an area's ozone problem. For example, areas with more significant ozone problems, such as Los Angeles, may have to apply more rigorous control measures, but will have a longer time to meet the ozone standards .
Ground-level ozone, a primary ingredient in smog, is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and NOx react chemically in the presence of sunlight. Car, trucks, power plants and industrial facilities are primary sources of these emissions. Ozone pollution is a concern during the summer months when the weather conditions needed to form ground-level ozone – lots of sun and hot temperatures – normally occur. Ozone is unhealthy to breathe, especially for people with respiratory diseases and for children and adults who are active outdoors.
More information and a full listing of EPA's designations of state and tribal areas is available at http://www.epa.gov/ozonedesignations. Information about the Clean Air Rules of 2004 is available at http://www.epa.gov/cleanair2004. Information about Early Action Compacts is available at http://www.epa.gov/air/eac/.