Environmental Insights

Risk Management Plan (RMP) - The Basics

Mitch Lagerstrom, Director of Consulting - EHS Practice

Date: 4/5/2022

EPA’s Chemical Accident Prevention Provisions promulgated at 40 CFR §68 is commonly referred to as a Risk Management Plan (RMP). Requirements are similar to OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM), but go further in several respects.

One difference is that it regulates more chemicals than PSM. For instance, PSM regulates aqueous ammonia above 44% concentration if the onsite quantity exceeds 15,000 pounds. However, RMP further regulates aqueous ammonia above 20% concentration (and below 44%) if more than 20,000 pounds is stored onsite.

Chemicals that are not subject to PSM are regulated under either Program 1 or 2. Facilities are eligible for Program 1 (40 CFR §68.10(g)) if they have not had an accidental release within the past five years that led to certain offsite consequences and the distance to a toxic or flammable endpoint is less than the distance to a public receptor (based on modeled results). Program 2 applies to any chemical that does not qualify for Program 1 or Program 3. RMP Program 3 is triggered for any chemical subject to PSM.

EPA requires submittal of documentation that is not required under PSM. Within Subpart G of the rule (40 CFR §68.150 et seq.), required information includes an executive summary, registration, offsite consequence analysis, five-year accident history, emergency response program and exercises, and certification. This is the only information ultimately submitted for any program subject to PSM and RMP. It is required to be updated and resubmitted every five years.

Another key difference with RMP is the language within the general duty clause (GDC). It applies to any extremely hazardous substance, a term that is not defined in §112(r) of the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act. As a result, EPA has discretion to apply the GDC to chemicals that are not on the EPA’s list of chemicals contained in 40 CFR §68. Companies should implement the core elements of PSM and RMP for any toxic or flammable chemical to comply with the GDC, including process hazard analysis, process safety elements, emergency response planning, employee training, contractor training, operating procedures, and mechanical integrity.