EPA Risk Management Plan Rules

Posted on 6/9/2015 by Anthony Cardno

In 1990, the Clean Air Act was amended to mandate that the US EPA and OSHA develop regulations and guidance for chemical accident prevention. In response, OSHA created its Process Safety Management (PSM) requirements and EPA created regulations requiring companies that use certain regulated chemicals to develop a Risk Management Plan (RMP).

The first RMPs were due to EPA on June 21, 1999. By 2009, more than 14,000 plans had been submitted. The information contained in these plans is intended to help local fire, police, and other emergency responders if and when an accident occurs that involves regulated chemicals. EPA's Risk Management Planning (RMP) regulations can be found at 40 CFR 68. Companies covered under these rules must review their RMPs at least every five years.

Who Must Submit a Risk Management Plan (RMP)?

Like OSHA's PSM requirements, the EPA RMP requirements apply to owners and operators of "stationary sources" that use certain flammable or toxic chemicals, in certain amounts, at any time in a single process. [40 CFR 68.10] A stationary source is defined as a place or object from which pollutants are released and which don't move around (e.g., power plants, gas stations, incinerators).

EPA lists the substances covered by these rules, and the thresholds for each substance, at 40 CFR 68.130. The list is split into four tables, organized as follows:
  1. Tables 1 and 2 list the regulated toxic substances. These substances are based on the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act's (EPCRA) extremely hazardous substances criteria. Table 1 is organized alphabetically, Table 2 in order of the substances' chemical abstracts services (CAS) number.
  2. Tables 3 and 4 list the regulated flammable substances. Table 3 is organized alphabetically, Table 4 in order of the substances' chemical abstracts services (CAS) number.
NOTE: While both EPA's RMP rules and OSHA's PSM rules originate from the Clean Air Act, the list of regulated substances is not the same in both programs. Facilities must carefully consider each program's list of regulated substances in making RMP and PSM applicability determinations.

The RMP rules consider a process to include one or more of the following activities:
  • Use;
  • Storage;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Handling; or
  • On-site movement.
All interconnected vessels are considered to be part of a single process, so the amount of a targeted substance in each interconnected vessel must be added towards the employer's applicability determination. EPA also considers separated vessels to be part of the same process when they are located in a way that the contents could be involved in a release associated with other vessels containing the same substance. [40 CFR 68.3]

Emergency release of flammable chemicals

RMP Exclusions for Fuel and Certain Sources

Listed regulated substances that are flammable fuels are excluded from the RMP requirements when they are either used as a fuel on site or held for sale as a fuel at retail facilities. [40 CFR 68.126] In addition, sources located on the Outer Continental Shelf are excluded from the RMP rules. [40 CFR 68.10(f)]

RMP Requirements

Before a stationary source can operate a covered process, operators must prepare and submit a written risk management plan to EPA. The risk management plan must include a description of:
  • The site, covered process, and covered regulated substances;
  • The process' five-year accident history;
  • The process' hazard assessment;
  • A worst-case release scenario; and
  • The process' prevention and emergency response programs.
The plan must be certified by the operators of the stationary source.

Worst-case Release Scenario

The stationary source must develop a worst-case release scenario for the process. The "worst case" must describe the far-reaching effect that would result when the maximum possible amount of the regulated substances leave the process at one time. This must include an off-site consequence analysis (OCA) that identifies the greatest endpoint off site that can result in fatality due to the release of the regulated substance. A copy of the plan's OCA will be made available to the public by EPA under specific rules located at 40 CFR 1400.

For more information on what's required in your company's RMP, and how to submit to EPA, visit

New Clean Air Act Regulations Now Available

A new online course is now available to help environmental engineers, EHS managers, and compliance officers keep their facilities in compliance with the US EPA’s Clean Air Act programs. The Clean Air Act Regulations guides professionals through compliance with Title V permit requirements, emissions and pollution controls, annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting, Risk Management Planning (RMP) responsibilities, and more. 

Build the expertise needed to make informed on-the-job decisions that help your site control pollution and maintain compliance. Interactive, easy to use, and available 24/7, the new online course will help you get up to speed with new and changing EPA clean air rules and protect your facility from costly EPA enforcement. 

Tags: Act, Air, Clean, EPA, process safety management, reporting and recordkeeping

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