By Jeryl L. Olson and Craig B. Simonsen

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in response to Executive Order 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security (EO), is publically, through a Federal Register notice, requesting public comments on “potential revisions” to its Risk Management Program. 79 Fed. Reg. 44604 (July 31, 2014).

This request is part of an effort highlighted in a recent publication of the EPA, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Department of Homeland Security’s first joint Report for the President, entitled “Actions to Improve Chemical Facility Safety and Security – A Shared Commitment,” published under the August 2013, Executive Order 13650. The EO was intended to enhance the safety and security at chemical facilities and reduce risks associated with hazardous chemicals to owners and operators, workers, and their neighboring communities.

The new information request by EPA follows an earlier December 2013 OSHA Request for Information on “Modernization” (which Request for Information was also a public request through a Federal Register Notice) of OSHA’s PSM Standard, also in response to Executive Order 13650. In its Request for Information, OSHA requested comments (78 Fed. Reg. 73756) both from regulated facilities specifically, but also generally from the public (including first responders, potentially impacted employees and their representatives, and neighboring communities). Information was requested on potential revisions to OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) standard, its Explosives and Blasting Agents standard, its Flammable Liquids standard, its Spray Finishing standard, and potential changes to its PSM enforcement policies.

Now, nearly a year after the publication of the President’s EO, and half a year after OSHA’s Request for Information, comes EPA with its thirty page Request for Information directed both facilities that produce, handle, process, distribute, or store greater than a threshold quantity of any listed toxic or flammable extremely hazardous substance regulated under EPA’s Risk Management Program (section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act), but also generally from the public (including again, first responders and neighboring communities). EPA is asking for “information and data on specific regulatory elements and process safety management approaches, the public and environmental health and safety risks they address, and the costs and burdens they may entail.”

As with the OSHA RFI, although the EPA Request for Information is directed in part at specific entities, it is not being sent directly to specific companies; rather EPA is soliciting information though a Federal Register notice. The Agency indicates that it will consider the information it receives, and then decide what, if any, further action is necessary at that time.

Public comments and information submittals, in this Docket, EPA–HQ–OEM–2014–0328, are due on October 29, 2014.