NSC Labor Division news Federal agencies Chemical Manufacturing

EPA rule will mandate response plans for weather-related chemical discharges


Photo: dszc/gettyimages

Washington — More than 5,300 industrial facilities must submit plans for responding to “worst case” chemical discharges into waterways during adverse weather events, under a new Environmental Protection Agency final rule.

EPA defines a “worst-case discharge” as “the largest foreseeable discharge in adverse weather conditions, including extreme weather conditions due to climate change.”

Set to go into effect May 28, the final rule affects onshore facilities – not related to transportation – whose chemical production and location “could reasonably be expected to cause substantial harm to the environment” after a potential worst-case discharge.

Possible impacted industries include building construction, utilities, mining (except oil and gas), oil and gas extraction, food manufacturing, textile mills, chemical manufacturing, and paper manufacturing, the rule states.

Facilities subject to the rule may include those that:

  • Carry a maximum onsite quantity of a Clean Water Act hazardous substance that meets or exceeds threshold quantities.
  • Are located within a half-mile radius of navigable water or conveyance to navigable water.
  • Meet at least one of EPA’s substantial harm criteria.

Elements of response plans should include hazard evaluation; risk identification, characterization, control and communication; response personnel and equipment; response actions; and training procedures, EPA says.

“As climate change increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, planning and preparedness for these incidents are especially important,” Clifford Villa, deputy assistant administrator of the EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management, said in a press release. “These new requirements will help protect the environment and communities by ensuring that facilities have planned for and can respond to worst-case discharges of hazardous substances.”

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)