EPA OIG’s Research on High Risk Chemicals Reported in TRI and RMP



Does your facility submit Form Rs or Form As for Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting every year? Is your facility subject to the requirements under the Risk Management Program (RMP)? If your answer is yes to both questions, now is a good time to review the data reported to these two programs for consistency; if your answer is yes to one of questions, now is a good time to consider if the other program is applicable to your facility.

 

A recent memorandum revealed that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to begin preliminary research to identify unregulated facilities using data from the TRI. For the annual TRI reporting, facilities supply various data on toxic chemical releases and other waste management activities in Form R and/or Form A. These data then become public available. Due to the overlap of the regulated chemicals under different programs, the published TRI data can be utilized to identify deficiencies in other environmental programs such as RMP, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting and etc. According to the memorandum, OIG is planning to conduct preliminary research focusing on the following areas:

  • Review the TRI data for high risk chemicals and cross-check to see if such facility has filed risk management plans for these chemicals;
  • Review the TRI data for surface water discharges and cross-check to see if such facility has a valid NPDES permit; and
  • Review the risk management plans and NPDES permits for high risk chemicals and cross-check to see if such facility report emissions under TRI program.

    Although OIG is in the preliminary research phase on this matter, facilities that are likely to be targeted may want to review the compliance status before the potential inspection activity gets underway. If you find the requirements under the RMP are challenging to navigate through, Trinity suggests asking the following questions when evaluating the compliance status of the RMP.

    • Have you recently reviewed your facility's materials, including, but not limited to, all reported TRI chemicals, against the RMP flammable and toxic lists?
    • Have you recently reviewed the RMP mixture rule as it may apply to your facility's materials:
      • For RMP regulated toxic substances and threshold quantities (TQ) - A toxic substance is never aggregated with a different toxic substance to determine whether a threshold quantity is present. If a process consists of co-located vessels with different toxic substances, you must determine whether each substance exceeds its threshold quantity.
      • For RMP regulated flammable substances and TQ - A flammable substance in one vessel is never aggregated with a different flammable substance in another vessel to determine whether a threshold quantity is present. However, if a flammable mixture meets the criteria for NFPA-4 and contains different regulated flammables, it is the mixture, not the individual substances, that is considered in determining if a threshold quantity is present.
    • Have you recently reviewed your RMP Program Level to ensure it is appropriate? Note, petroleum refineries and chemical manufacturing facilities operate under certain NAICS codes may need to be classified as Program Level 3 instead Program Level 2. Comparing to Program Level 2, Program Level 3 has additional requirements under the Prevention Program, such as management of change, pre-startup safety review, contractors, employee participation and hot work permit. The applicable NAICS codes for Program Level 3 are 32211 (pulp mills), 32411 (petroleum refineries), 32511 (petrochemical manufacturers), 325181 (chlor-alkali manufacturers), 325188 (all other inorganic chemicals manufacturers), 325192 (other cyclic crude and intermediate manufacturers), 325199 (all other basic organic chemical manufacturers), 325211 (plastics and resins manufacturers), 325311 (nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers) and 32532 (pesticide and other agricultural chemicals manufacturers).
    • Are you aware of the June 5, 2015 OSHA Guidance Memo establishing a PSM Mixture Rule, for which OSHA enforcement is currently delayed until September 30, 2016, and its potential impact to your site’s RMP Program Level?
    • Have you recently reviewed your site materials against the PSM material list and the PSM general flammable category requirements?

    Trinity will continue to follow the OIG's activity for indications of agency inspection based on this preliminary research. For more information on RMP or assistance in determining applicability for your facility, please contact Natalie VanLiew, P.E., at 913-894-4500 or your local Trinity office.