Update: Response Plans for Hazardous Substances

Posted on 3/28/2024 by Roger Marks

Update 03/28/24 

Today, US EPA published a new Clean Water Act rule requiring thousands of facilities to create a Facility Response Plan (FRP) to prepare for a potential release of a hazardous substance to water. 

The Final Rule takes effect on May 28, 2024 and gives covered facilities 3 years (until June 1, 2027) to prepare, submit, and implement a compliant plan. After June 1, 2027, EPA will require newly constructed faculties to submit and implement a plan prior to the start of operations (incl. a short start up period adjustment phase). See the Final Rule in the March 28 Federal Register

covered facilities near navigable waters FRP

Original Article: Posted March 26, 2024 

Final Rule: Hazardous Substance Facility Response Plan (FRP) 

More than 5,000 facilities with potential to discharge hazardous chemicals must now create and submit a Facility Response Plan (FRP) to comply with the Clean Water Act under a new Final Rule.

A Final Rule from US EPA adds the release planning requirement, which applies to owners or operators of facilities that store or have hazardous chemicals and are located within one-half-mile of a protected water. 

Who Needs the Hazardous Substance FRP?

The Clean Water Act regulations designate hazardous substances in 40 CFR Part 116. The new rule requires a hazardous substance Facility Response Plan (FRP) for any facility that: 

  • Is located within one-half-mile of a protected water, and 
  • Has 1,000x the RQ of a CWA hazardous substance or more on site at any time, and
  • Could reasonably be expected to cause substantial harm to the environment by discharging a CWA hazardous substance into or on the navigable waters or a conveyance or navigable waters…” 

“Substantial harm” means the facility meets one or more new regulatory criteria: 

  • Ability to cause injury to fish, wildlife, and sensitive environments, 
  • Ability to adversely impact a public water system, 
  • Ability to cause injury to public water receptors, or 
  • A history of reportable hazardous substance discharges. 
To determine if a hazardous substance discharge could cause "substantial harm," the new Rule mandates that facilities model a worst-case scenario discharge and measure the results against specific criteria in the regulations. That worst-case scenario must account for adverse weather conditions, among other factors.

Update: Response Plans for Hazardous Substances 

Planning Threshold 10x Smaller Than Proposed 

In March 2022, EPA proposed a quantity threshold of 10,000x the RQ of a hazardous substance to determine if the facility poses “substantial harm to the environment…” (in part).  

In the Final Rule, that threshold is 1,000x the RQ. 

“While EPA proposed a 10,000x RQ multiplier, the Agency has determined that a 1,000x RQ multiplier will more appropriately screen for covered facilities… This results in substantially more covered facilities having to determine whether they are subject to the planning requirements of this rule..."

Clean Water Act Hazardous Substance Facility Response Plans. Final Rule, Pre-publication text on US EPA website, 03/14/24. 

Read the Final Rule here.

Complete EPA Regulations Training- Live on May 16-17

Want a clearer idea of how major EPA air, water, and chemical programs all fit together to affect your site's activities? Join a Lion instructor for the next Complete Environmental Regulations webinar on May 16-17. 

Or train at your own pace: EH&S professionals who take the Complete Environmental Regulations online course can identify the regulations that apply to their facility and locate key requirements to achieve compliance with the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to EPCRA, TSCA, Superfund, and more.


Tags: Clean Water Act, CWA, environmental, EPA, hazardous substances

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