March 7, 2024

EPA Finalizes Updates to Risk Management Program Rule

On March 1, EPA announced it had finalized amendments to the risk management program (RMP) rule. According to the agency’s press release, the changes are intended to increase protections for communities, especially those located near facilities regulated under the RMP rule, by improving chemical process safety; assisting in planning, preparing for, and responding to accidents; and increasing public awareness of chemical hazards.

Under the updated rule, covered facilities will be required to evaluate safer technologies and alternatives and implement reliable safeguards in industry sectors with high accident rates. Other changes address employee participation, training, and decision-making in accident prevention, such as by allowing employees to anonymously report unaddressed hazards. Facilities that have reported prior accidents will be required to obtain third-party compliance audits and root-cause analyses. The amendments also aim to improve information sharing and transparency between facilities, emergency responders, and communities.

EPA’s RMP rule applies to about 11,470 U.S. facilities that use extremely hazardous substances. The rule requires these facilities to develop risk management plans that address hazard assessment, accident prevention, and emergency response programs. Approximately 131 million people live within three miles of an RMP facility. The updated rule is intended to prevent accidents such as the 2019 explosion and fire in Port Neches, Texas, which led to the evacuation of around 50,000 people.

EPA has also released an online tool that allows users to search for RMP facilities in their locality. More information about the new amendments can be found in the agency’s press release.