June 21 is the deadline for 60,000 companies and organizations nationwide to file a risk management plan and worst-case scenario with EPA if they manufacture, store, distribute, handle or use any of 140 chemicals, whether toxic or flammable, above certain quantities.
The requirement to file a plan was mandated in 1990 by Section 112(r) of the amended Clean Air Act. Facilities affected include chemical and petrochemical manufacturers; petroleum refiners; the paper industry; municipal facilities, including public drinking water systems, wastewater treatment works and public utilities; agricultural retailers; food processors, food wholesalers and others with refrigerated warehouses and cold storage, including dairies and ice cream producers; electric and gas utilities; and federal facilities, military installations and colleges/universities.
Originally, propane retailers had to file, but on May 21, EPA excluded flammable hydrocarbon fuels, including propane, butane, ethane, methane and others stored in quantities of no more than 67,000 pounds. Railroads, trucking companies and pipelines are not affected because the U.S. Department of Transportation has responsibility for transportation-related chemical safety issues.
Information that includes worst-case and alternative toxic release scenarios adjacent to the facility and a five-year accident history will be available to the public, but not on the Internet, because of concerns of potential use by terrorists. Details for accessing this information is being developed by EPA with help from CIA, FBI and the National Security Council.
States may have their own programs, but program requirements must be as stringent as EPA's and must include all substances on the regulated list. Approximately 30 percent of the companies, organizations and facilities subject to the risk management program also must comply with the Clean Air Act for emissions of air pollutants.
For more information, access EPA's Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office Web site at www.epa.gov/swercepp/ or call (800)424-9346.