After a three-year rule-making process that included consideration of over 60,000 comments, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued changes to the Risk Management Program (RMP) that are intended to protect people and the environment in and near chemical plants in this country. Each manufacturing plant that produces hazardous or volatile chemicals must complete an RMP which includes a history of accidents and examines the potential for future problems including accidental release and explosion on a scale up to and including a worst case scenario.
Each chemical plant must have standard precautions and maintenance plans, naming any chemicals present that are on a registry of hazardous substances. Workers must be trained for accident prevention, response, and emergency health care. Each plant is subject to monitoring for its practices and any chemical releases. In communities near a chemical plant emergency responders and health care providers must be trained and informed as part of the RMP. Each plan must be revised and resubmitted every 5 years.
The EPA’s response to the Executive Order dictating the current rulemaking process has been criticized by both environmental advocates and the chemical industry. A rule submitted and published at this point in the Obama administration is subject to revocation by the incoming administration which will give the executive branch a chance to signal how it means to go forward.
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