Risk Management Program Request for Information (RFI) - Docket Number EPA-HQ-OEM-2014-0328

October 29, 2014

The Honorable Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20460-0001

Re: Comments for Docket Number: EPA-HQ-OEM-2014-0328 - Risk Management Program Request for Information

Dear Assistant Administrator Stanislaus,

We the undersigned organizations are writing to formally submit comments in response to Docket Number EPA-HQ-OEM-2014-0328 - Risk Management Program Request for Information (RFI). The organizations sending this letter represent thousands of facilities across the nation covered by Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations. In addition, the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) is an ANSI accredited standards writing body whose standards are used as Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEP). The questions posed in the RFI are of great interest to our organizations and member companies and we appreciate the opportunity to provide comment.

Below are our specific comments on the sections most relevant and applicable to our organizations and members:

Updating the List of Regulated Substances (page 12)

Lowering the ammonia threshold quantity (10,000 lbs.) under the Risk Management program would require smaller independent companies to needlessly increase their operating costs and could inflict financial harm. It is estimated that the initial cost for developing a RMP could be over $100,000.00, with an annual program maintenance costs greater than $25,000.00.

The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, Section 112(r)(1) (General Duty Clause) requires safe operations of facilities/processes with less than threshold quantities of RMP chemicals through prevention of accidental releases and minimization of consequences of releases that do occur. . This requirement has been in place since 1990 and the ammonia refrigeration industry has suitable, less costly management programs in place that will satisfy the requirements of the GDC without harshly, unduly requirements by lowering RMP threshold for ammonia.

Additional Risk Management Program Elements (page 43)

Revising the management-system elements raises a number of questions and concerns. Because RMP is supposed to be performance-based, we are opposed to requiring specifying management- system metrics required by those subject to the regulation. Requiring facilities to use and share metrics is more prescriptive than a performance-based regulation should mandate.

In addition, RMP regulations already include management practices in almost all elements. For example, CCPS RBPS does not appear to really have 20 separate management systems. Rather, it appears that they have broken out portions of existing elements and subdivided them. “Process Safety Culture”, “Process Safety Competency”, and “Stakeholder Outreach” RBPS elements are already being incorporated into the Employee Participation portion of PSM programs. For those truly unique elements included in RBPS, not all of them may apply to facilities with ammonia refrigeration systems.

CCPS primarily focuses on the production of chemicals and the processes used to create chemicals, thus the CCPS should not be used as an applicable source for all RMP processes. We believe this would stifle innovation and some industry best practices are not applicable to all other industries. While we recognize continuous improvement and metrics can be useful tools, we are concerned that they cannot effectively be a measure of compliance or non-compliance. Therefore, we do not feel continuous improvement and metrics should be added to the RMP regulation.

The IIAR’s PSM and Risk Management Program Guidance contains a sample Management- System document which provides management system guidance directly applicable to the ammonia refrigeration industry. Adding the requirement for more complex management processes has the potential to occupy resources that would otherwise be applied to improving compliance with existing requirements while adding little value towards safety.

Should such additional management system elements ultimately be required, it would be important to coordinate the requirements between PSM and RMP. When the EPA was developing their Accidental Release Prevention Requirements (40 CFR Part 68), the initial drafts for RMP contained substantial differences with the PSM Standard which had been issued four years earlier. Facilities were rightfully worried that they would have to maintain two separate, distinct programs: A PSM program to comply with the OSHA requirements and a Risk Management Program to comply with the EPA requirements. Numerous comments to the EPA convinced them to include program elements in the RMP which are essentially identical to the PSM program elements.

With respect to adding the management system elements of (1) “Stop Work Authority”, (2) “Ultimate Work Authority”, (3) “Conduct of Operations”, (4) “Process Safety Culture”, and (5) “Job Safety Analysis”, we feel this is too prescriptive for a performance based regulation. In addition, many (if not all) of these “elements” are already incorporated into the existing Process Safety Management / Risk Management Programs through defining of: Operating Limits (§68.69(a)(2)); assignment of responsibility (§68.69(a)(1)); equipment deficiencies (§68.73(e)); Pre-startup review (§68.77); Job Safety Analysis(29CFR 1910.132(d)(2). Other federal regulations (i.e. 29 CFR 1910.252) and industry standards (i.e. ANSI/IIAR 5-2013) all provide additional guidance and regulations that the owner / operator is to be following that adequately address these types of activities. Additional requirements above what is currently stated and included in existing regulations and through industry standards would not ultimately improve the “safety” of the system.

Facilities should be free to choose those management system elements which are applicable to the complexity of their operations and to their industry; they should not be constrained to use management-system elements which were developed under circumstances which may not apply to their operations.

Imposing additional safety requirements on contractor owners and operators since contractors are increasingly used in a variety of roles at chemical process facilities, (page 46)

We do not believe that additional requirements are necessary for contractor owners and operators in the ammonia refrigeration industry. Existing federal regulations (EPA and OSHA) are very clear that the “contract owner or operator” is required to ensure training and understanding, following of safety rules, etc. Modification or additional requirements are not needed or required at this time.

Ammonia refrigeration industry contractors are essentially used in the same roles today as when the RMP regulation was first enacted. The current Contractor section clearly lays out the requirements for Owners/Operators and Contractors and these requirements have been working in our industry. Since the roles of contractors have not changed in our industry and since the overwhelming number of incidents does not involve contractors we do not believe additional safety requirements are necessary.

Clarifying PHA and hazard review requirements: (page 47)

Specifying the types of failure scenarios and damage mechanisms for PHAs and hazard reviews could be problematic. The implication of such a policy is that EPA would be essentially stating that they know more about the processes and potential failure mechanisms than the experts within each industry. In addition, this would seem to indicate that the scenarios and damage mechanics for all industries are identical. Identification of failure scenarios and damage mechanism is best be left to those who have the most experience in each unique process which is being analyzed.

Additionally, providing a list of prescriptive failure scenarios and damage mechanics might actually result in less thorough PHAs and hazard reviews. If a team were provided with such a list, they might actually review the list as the only comprehensive list of scenarios and damage mechanisms to analyze. This may essentially minimize or eliminate the “brainstorming” approach which should be used to generate scenarios and damage mechanics.

The IIAR has provided clear guidance for its members on the failure scenarios and damage mechanics which should be considered in PHA studies and hazard reviews in the PSM and Risk Management Program Guidance developed specifically for our industry. But even this document recognizes that PHA teams must have to freedom to either customize these guidelines or develop alternative scenarios and damage mechanisms to fit their unique operations.

It is appropriate for EPA to clearly define when a hazard review or PHA should be updated. There has been much confusion about this issue throughout industry. This definition should not,

however, require facilities to conduct studies for all changes to the process. The majority of changes are relatively minor and can clearly be addressed using the existing Management of Change element. PHA and hazard review updates should be reserved for “major” changes to a process.

We see no advantage to updating PHA studies more frequently that once every five years or when major changes to systems or processes are to be implemented. The only exception might be to require an updated PHA study if an incident requires the five-year accident history to be updated; in this case the updated PHA should only be conducted on the portion of the process involved in the incident. As stated above, there are already provisions to update PHA studies and hazard reviews if there are “major” changes to a process. Beyond incidents and changes, we do not believe there is justification for changing the frequency of PHA and hazard review revalidations.

Clearly state what modifications would require a change in process safety information and thus would require the owner or operator to perform a pre-startup review for new stationary sources and for modified stationary. (page 47)

The existing verbiage in the regulation (§68.77(a)) is very clear on the requirement to perform the pre-startup review “new stationary sources and for modified stationary sources when the modification is significant enough to require a change in the process safety information.” Additional verbiage and/or changes to this section would not be beneficial at this time. Basically stated, if a Management of Change is required then a Pre-startup Review is required.

Define and Require Evaluation of Updates to Applicable Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEP) (page 50)

We agree that adding a definition for RAGAGEP could be useful to help owners better understand requirements under the standard. A definition for RAGAGEP may also be helpful in reducing the instances of EPA inspectors citing standards that are not as applicable to a given type of facility. For example, there have been occasions where EPA inspectors have applied American Petroleum Institute (API) standards to ammonia refrigeration facilities. Better defining RAGAGEP can reduce the misapplication of standards by inspectors and facilitate better understanding and application by facility owners. A definition of RAGAGEP should include methods and “whys”, but not go so far as how to do something like inspect, which becomes a maintenance procedure. A definition of RAGAGEP should not take away the ability of a facility to identify which RAGAGEP they are applying to their operations.

It is incumbent on covered facilities to identify updates to codes and standards of RAGAGEP as process changes or improvements must be constructed in accordance with the latest revisions of these docs. The Management of Change (MOC) and Process Hazards Analysis (PHA) sections of PSM and RMP are currently sufficient to identify risks without a stand-alone requirement for evaluation of RAGAGEP. The Formosa Plastics incident used as an example is a situation where a Process Hazards Analysis Revalidation should adequately identify appropriate RAGAGEP for incident prevention. Furthermore, it is likely impractical for covered facilities to update all processes to maintain conformance with current standards without other design

changes which could impose a significant economic burden. In many cases it is impossible to conform with all RAGAGEP because of possible conflicting requirements. The MOC and PHA elements coupled with Employee Participation and Pre-Startup Safety Review are adequate for identification of new hazards created by process changes or to identify hazards based on incidents since the last PHA Revalidation.

There is also concern about the application of manufacturer’s recommendations within RAGAGEP. While EPA has a tendency to look to manufactures recommendations for industry standards for mechanical integrity, it is important to understand that manufactures recommendations should not automatically be considered industry standards or RAGAGEP because they can be motivated by factors other than the reductions in injuries, fatalities, and property damage.

Extend Mechanical Integrity Requirements to Cover Any Safety-Critical Equipment (page 52)

Conceptually, the proposal to expand the coverage of the Mechanical Integrity element to all safety-critical equipment seems reasonable. For the ammonia refrigeration industry, covered facilities already must identify components, controls and PM frequency for them in accordance with OEM recommendations. In addition, IIAR is currently developing IIAR 6 that will specify the mechanical integrity requirements for all safety-critical equipment in an ammonia refrigeration system.

However, for such a change to be effective, a workable definition of “safety-critical” must be developed. The determination of what is safety-critical can be subject to broad interpretation. For example, the loss of any utility within the control of the owner could be construed to represent a significant risk to the process, even when the process is designed to safely shutdown on a loss of utilities. However, the concern in this case would be that there would likely be no special stipulations for the utilities out of control of the owner.

Require Owners and Operators to Manage Organizational Changes (page 55)

There is some merit in expanding the Management of Change requirements to include organization changes, as long as there is clear guidance on what organizational changes qualify. We believe that the majority of organizational changes do not rise to the level of requiring inclusion in Management of Change.

The following “Tip” is contained in the management of change section of the IIAR’s PSM and RMP Program Guidelines and can provide some useful perspective on what organizational changes should be included in management of change programs:

Tips: Modify these definitions and add additional definitions applicable to your facility. For example, you might modify the definition of a “change” to include operating and maintenance staffing changes such as cutbacks in the staffing of operations or maintenance personnel or to address labor issues such as work stoppages (e.g. strikes).

If organizational changes are included, “replacements in kind” should be exempted from the management of change requirements to address normal transitions which occur at a typical facility provided that actual staffing levels or reporting requirements do not change. For example, if a Refrigeration Technician retires, the facility should not be required to complete the management of change form if they plan on hiring a new Refrigeration Technician and training him to replace the Technician that left. However, the elimination of a Refrigeration Technician position may warrant inclusion. In the spirit of performance based standards, facility owners should be given a sufficient level of flexibility to design their own programs to meet the requirement.

Require Third-Party Compliance Audits (page 56)

Compliance audits are useful tools for evaluating a facility’s safety. However, we are concerned about the intended definition of “third-party”. We strongly believe that third-party audit should not be limited to hiring outside personnel to perform the audit. Outside consultants have their place, but facilities should have the flexibility to utilize internal safety experts from other facilities or corporate headquarters to perform audits.

A third party doesn’t necessarily equate to more qualified or independent auditors. Often third parties are motivated to generate work for themselves as a result of an audit. When the RMP regulation was first implemented there were many contractors that developed auditing capabilities as a way of generating business. Often the internal auditor is more familiar with the process and the inherent risks. Internal audit teams are often more thorough than a third party and share best practices, company policies and experience from other facilities within the same company. Using internal auditors develops the auditing experience and expertise in-house where it is more accessible as opposed to losing it to a third party. Process owners should have the ability to identify the resources required to conduct audits whether it be by independent internal resource or a third party.

Requiring facilities to hire outside auditors also has the potential to put small businesses at a disadvantage. Hiring auditors can be a costly process. If a small business has access to qualified internal auditors, they should have the flexibility to use them.

Should EPA move forward with this proposal, we strongly encourage the use of a definition similar to the one used in Section 6.6.4 of IIAR Bulletin #110:

This inspection should be carried out by a person who has the training and knowledge for this task, for example:

  •   An employee of the owner, competent to perform inspections and who is independent of the daily operating responsibilities for that installation

  •   An independent organization or individual competent to perform inspections

  •   An inspector from the insurance company who is licensed to write pressure vessel insurance

  •   A licensed inspector from the jurisdiction where the pressure vessel or shell-and-tube heat exchanger is located.

We are opposed to the agency defining certification requirements for third-party auditors. Requirements for the credentials of the auditors has some merit, but due to the breath of the RMP standard, a single standard is not recommended (e.g. an oil refinery is much different than a refrigeration system). The performance based concept in RMP should be applied here, where the employer sets the standard for the “qualifications” of the auditors.

In addition, certification is not required for PHA Team Leaders. The PHA process and the audit process are equivalent and equally important activities, therefore there should not be added qualifications to perform an audit. The following requirements are consistent with those for PHA team leaders and should be applicable to auditors:

One member of the audit team must be knowledgeable in the Risk Management Program requirements and in auditing techniques.”

The RMP regulation already requires owners/operators to address each finding for a compliance audit and to document how they address each requirement in writing. Therefore we feel no additional changes are required. We have concerns with establishing a procedure to appeal the findings of the third-party auditor presupposes that facilities must implement each finding identified by a third-party auditor. This would establish a dangerous precedent that we believe it is against the intent of RMP. As stated earlier, facilities should always have relative freedom to address, but not necessarily implement each finding, whether the finding was generated by facility personnel or a third-party auditor.

We do not agree with requiring facilities to perform full compliance audits if they experience an incident or near miss. These situations should trigger an incident investigation and the incident investigation should get to the root cause, including which sections if any of PSM and/or RMP need improvement to prevent another incident and/or near miss. However, making a requirement of a full compliance audit could possibly influence facilities to report/document and investigate less incident investigations and near misses because of the concern about the burden of the requirement to perform a compliance audit.

There should not be a mandated timeframe for completing compliance audit items. Facilities should have a documented plan with target completion dates and action being shown on each item to completion. However, some items might require capital funding, which can take time due to the process and/or lengthy construction time. As long as engineering and/or administrative controls are in place (if necessary) and the facility can show action on an item until completion, a mandated timeframe is not needed.

We are opposed to the requirement to mandate specific time frames to respond to issues identified during an audit since no two audits and no two recommendations are identical. Some recommendations can be implemented before the audit is completed, others may take years, and significant capital investments, to fully implement. Having a written action plan and showing action on items should be acceptable.

We believe that requiring audits every three years is an appropriate timeframe. Auditing more frequently than every three years is an extra burden on the process owner since there is time and expense associated with the auditing process whether it is internal or external. Audits are disruptive to the normal operation of the process since the operating staff must also prepare and participate in formal audits. This is particularly true of smaller entities whose staffs handle

multiple responsibilities. Increasing the frequency of auditing to annual or bi-annual is no more likely to improve compliance than the current three year requirement.

Effects of OSHA PSM Coverage on RMP Applicability (page 59)

Non-refrigeration ammonia users and/or chlorine users typically have greater inventories of identical chemicals, yet are not held to the same standards as the refrigeration industry. Locations of many exempted chemical users are in close proximity to rural refrigeration systems. Enhanced educational programs and compliance assistance support offered by EPA for these small entities would likely enhance safety where prevention practices are not being used at the present time.

The Program 2 elements do not have a place for ammonia users. Facilities are either Programs 1 or Program 3. Most, if not all, are Program 3 and as such must comply with OSHA PSM Standards. As such, the EPA should consider adopting or mirroring the OSHA PSM Standard and simply having a separate element for the Offsite Consequence Analysis, Management System and Risk Management Plan requirements.

Safer Technology and Alternatives Analysis (page 63)

We are very concerned with mandating inherently safer technology reviews. The regulatory burden of requiring costly IST reviews tends to stifle innovation. For those companies who are already looking to improve safety by implementing IST options, a formal IST review would add costs to a process by forcing them to document the activities they are already performing. Small operations might not have the manpower or expertise to do this and lack the resources to hire it out cost effectively.

For those companies who do not implement IST options, the IST review becomes a “paper exercise” where they document why it is “infeasible” to implement these options. If RMP facilities are required to perform safer alternative options analyses and implementation plans, EPA should not require that the analyses and/or implementation plans be submitted to the agency. Likewise, EPA should not have any role in analyzing or approving such plans.

We are strongly opposed to requiring the involvement of local communities in IST analysis. While local communities have good intentions, they have virtually no expertise in safety and risk management as it applies to a specific industry, and often little knowledge of why processes and systems are necessary for economic and material well being of the community and the country. For example, in industrial refrigeration, there is no substitute refrigerant for ammonia that is available on the scale that is required to produce food for human consumption. A public demand to replace ammonia would, if even feasible, would drive up consumer prices and could possibly force the closure of facilities. In addition, the public would tend to feel that a company has “deep pockets” and thus should be able to implement all IST options regardless of feasibility. Also, there are security issues related to revealing issues related to IST options and sensitive information could be compromised by involving local communities.

Emergency Drills to Test a Source’s Emergency Response Program or Plan (page 71)

Requirements for tabletop drills and/or functional emergency response exercises on alternating years will likely enhance a chemical user’s awareness and preparedness for emergencies. Recommendation or suggestion of inclusion of local emergency responders would be reasonable to enhance effectiveness of coordination requirements already in effect in the Risk Management Program Rules. Requirements for inclusion of offsite emergency responders, however is not recommended as these resources are not controlled by covered facilities. Staffing and funding limitations may inhibit some responders’ exercise and/or coordination abilities. Covered facilities must not be penalized if offsite responders are not able to participate.

Automated Detection and Monitoring for Releases of Regulated Substances (page 75)

RMP should remain performance based, and adding specific requirements for detection and monitoring would be counter to performance based. RAGAGEP should be used to determine if/when detection and monitoring devices should be used. The IIAR has clear guidance on the requirements for detection and monitoring devices in the latest version of IIAR 2 and we feel that industry experts should be used to determine when/where these devices should be used, not government regulators. We feel that EPA should allow facilities to install these devices based on industry standard and guidelines, not regulatory restrictions made by personnel who may have little to no understanding of the nuances of each industrial sector.

Below are responses to specific points raised under this section:

  1. Ammonia Refrigeration facilities are required to install monitoring equipment and sensors per our industry codes and standards.

  2. This is something that should ultimately be required by industry specific organizations and incorporated into that industry’s codes and standards.

  3. We have strong concerns that this opens the door for the detection devices, sensors, panels, etc. to be potentially required to meet requirements by a testing laboratory, UL, or similar.

  4. These monitoring systems should only contact the Owner / Operator which would then initiate the Emergency Response plan and make necessary notifications.

  5. This is something that should ultimately be required by industry specific organizations and incorporated into that industry’s codes and standards.

g. There should be no requirement for alarm/alert activation to responders and the public (see “c” above). It is very rare that facilities are able to perform emergency response drills with local responders due to time and availability restraints on the local respondersparts. It is an unreasonable request to expect the LEPCs and SERCs to participate, review, and have involvement in the development process of every locations emergency response plan.

  1. Monitoring equipment / sensor testing requirements should be developed and provided by the manufacture. Any specific time limit / requirement included in the regulation would not be beneficial (or reasonable).

  2. With the vast difference in “emissions” versus the ammonia refrigeration industry, there really is no valid or reasonable method that would allow this similar type of program to be successful.

  3. Should not be required other than through industry specific codes and standards.

Additional Stationary Source Location Requirements (page 79)

The current regulatory climate already dictates that facilities consider buffer and setback zones and occupancies when siting new facilities. The issues related to occupancy are already addressed by industry applicable standards such as ASHRAE 15 and is currently being incorporated into IIAR 2. However, providing specific requirements is, as stated numerous times, against the performance based nature of the RMP regulation.

Introducing siting restrictions such as distance from the covered process to occupancies could become a problem in situations where a facility might want to upgrade to a new and safer engine room but the best location is not compliant with siting restrictions. If adopted, this policy may ultimately encourage facilities to keep running older (potentially less safe) facilities rather than construct newer, modern (and potentially safer) facilities due to the burden involved with the specific requirements which would be imposed by the EPA.

Compliance with Emergency Response Program Requirements in Coordination with Local Responders (page 82)

Coordination with local emergency planning and response authorities is an important aspect of safety. As a result, such coordination is already specifically required in the RMP Rules. Enforcement of this issue is linked through Hazard Communication, Emergency Action and HAZWOPER Standards. The coordination with local agencies (e.g. LEPC, Fire Department, Police, etc.) is required by the EPA’s Chemical Accident Prevention Provisions (40 CFR Part 68.95(c)). An argument can be made that the issue of coordination is already well covered and that adding requirements would be redundant.

It should also be noted that some facilities may not be in an area with a LEPC that could/would assist in an event which would also impose and unnecessary burden on facilities. Additionally, there may be circumstances wherein facility personnel are more trained and qualified through HAZWOPER training and practice than the LEPC. While we recognize inclusion of the LEPC for a covered process facility is mostly beneficial, it may not always be the most beneficial course of action for a facility depending on experience and training.

A clearly defined reasonable level of coordination with planning and response authorities presents a significant challenge. If facilities are “required” to coordinate their response activities, EPA must recognize that despite the best efforts of facilities sometimes the coordination is a “one-way” street. It is very difficult at times to get the local responders to visit each PSM-covered facility regardless of the urgency and the number of the invitations provided. If a facility can demonstrate that they provided appropriate information to the off-site responders and contacted them on a regular basis that should be sufficient to demonstrate that they have attempted to encourage coordination with these responders.

In addition, there needs to be recognition of the ability of an industrial response team that deals with fire, bomb threats, boiler alarms, etc. A trained operator should be allowed to engage the plant’s emergency shut-down procedure while working with the same PPE that they would be using when opening the system for repairs (APR, full skin protection, ammonia monitor, and gloves).

The following information from the emergency planning and response section of the IIAR’s PSM and RM Program Guidelines provides a useful perspective on the issue of coordination:

10. Coordination with Off-Site Responders

The following elements of the emergency plan are coordinated with off-site responders: (1) Procedures that will be followed to inform the local emergency response agencies about emergencies at the facility
(2) Procedures that will be followed to conduct search and rescue operations

(3) First aid and emergency medical procedures that will be followed to treat accidental human exposures
(4) Procedures that will be followed to respond to accidental ammonia releases
(5) Amount and type of emergency equipment that is available on-site and through outside agencies

(6) Training and drills that will be conducted with outside agencies
(7) Decontamination and clean-up procedures
(8) (Insert Additional Elements if Applicable)
To address the above, the following procedures will be followed to verify that our emergency plan is coordinated with off-site responders:

(1) Copies of the Emergency Plan will be sent to each of the off-site responders for their review and comments whenever changes are made to the plan.
(2) Representatives from each of the off-site responders will be invited to tour the facility and talk with facility personnel to review the Emergency Plan on an annual basis.

(3) Off-site responders will be invited to participate in any related training and drills with facility personnel.
(4) (Insert Additional Procedures if Applicable)

Tips: Expand and/or modify this section to reflect the procedures followed to coordinate the emergency action and/or response plan with off-site responders. For example, insert additional procedures if applicable.
All facilities are encouraged to develop written or oral arrangements of responsibilities regarding emergency response activities with their local 
emergency response agencies. These arrangements should address the following issues:

  •   names and/or titles of primary and secondary contacts;

  •   telephone numbers and pager numbers for 24-hour contact; and

  •   a brief description of major responsibilities of each party.

    Incident Investigation and Accident History Requirements (page 86)

    Incident investigation requirements as currently written are sufficient for determining the cause of accidents. OSHA PSM 29CFR 1910.119 Appendix C(12) Incident Investigations, addresses details and provides compliance guidance on the intent of incident investigation and the applicability of incidents that require investigations to include near misses.

    There is value in having a good definition of what constitutes a “near miss” and a “process upset”, but proper development of the definitions will be critical. Root cause analysis is a common practice of investigating incidents but it is not the only method used. For example the “Five-Why” approach is in use by many companies. Facilities should be free to determine the exact technique used provided that the major causes and all contributing factors are identified as part of the incident investigating technique.

    We believe it would be difficult, if not impossible, to specify time frames for investigations to be finished. Investigations of relatively straight-forward incidents can be completed in a matter of days. But serious incidents which involve, for example, expertise by specialists and examinations by outside laboratories could take a year or more.

  1. Modification to 5-year accident history reporting requirements would potentially lead to the requirement for locations to meet the requirements of a different “Program” level. The benefit outlined in the RFI for “disseminating lessons learned across industry” is not a valid basis for expanding this requirement. The information that is reported through the RMP reporting (CDX) process on a 5-year accident does not currently include any information that could lead to the industry fully understanding (i.e. the factors leading up to the release, release response, root cause(s), remediation activities taken, etc.) and being able to extrapolate ways to make the process “safer”.

  2. It is unclear as to what the benefit of a plant conducting a “Compliance Audit” on all program elements due to having an “incident or near miss” would benefit the plant or the program.

  3. There is no clear benefit for improving safety of the process by sharing incident investigation results or including the local community in the conducting of the investigations. Requiring this in the regulation is not going to benefit anyone but will lead to fewer incidents and near misses being investigated (locations will not want to “share” that they had or could have had a catastrophic release). Also, this could lead to unfavorable public perception of the plant and company a potentially huge economic impact to business and local economy.

Worst Case Release Scenario Quantity Requirements for Processes Involving Numerous Small Vessels Stored Together (page 91)

In an ammonia refrigeration system, it is virtually impossible to release the entire ammonia inventory in any single event. Therefore to require the entire system inventory for the process to be used for the worst-case scenario would be require facilities to analyze a scenario which is virtually impossible and thus create an unrealistic picture of risk at the facility. Nearly all incidents, including very serious incidents, at ammonia refrigeration systems involve releases from a single vessel.

Accident history for the ammonia refrigeration industry shows that the Worst Case Scenario stipulations for RMP is not practical and is unreasonable for emergency planning in the refrigeration industry. Ammonia vessels do not explode like process reactors in petrochemical facilities. Fires involving ammonia equipment are not made worse by ammonia leaks. Typically ammonia is found to remain in pressure vessels after the fires have been extinguished. A problem with a vessel is not likely to result in a release from an adjoining or collocated vessel in an ammonia refrigeration system.

The current definition is clearly understood and unambiguous and it is not recommended to change worst case scenario requirements to evaluate all vessels together. The changes suggested could increase confusion due to their ambiguous nature of the requirements and thus lead to a lack of uniformity in worst-case scenarios and would not present a true representative of risk in our industry.

Public Disclosure of Information to Promote Regulatory Compliance and Improve Community Understanding of Chemical Risks (page 94)

The information contained in the RMP which is submitted to EPA is readily available on-line and there are already requirements for the distribution of Tier II reports to appropriate local authorities. Allowing more information to be disclosed (audits, PHA, etc.) would have the effect of compromising public safety and security by allowing sensitive information be too readily available. Due to the confidential nature of this information, we should be taking steps to avoid disclosure, not increasing its availability.

Threshold Quantities and Off-site Consequence Analysis Endpoints for Regulated Substances Based on Acute Exposure Guideline Level Toxicity Values (page 96)

Based on the current AEGL-2 levels for anhydrous ammonia, we do not oppose using AEGL-2 to recalculate RMP reporting thresholds and toxic endpoints for off-site consequence analyses.

Program 3 NAICS Codes Based on RMP Accident History Data (page 105)

With the exception of some facilities located in California and one facility in New Jersey, all ammonia refrigeration facilities in the United States are Program 3 facilities since the OSHA threshold for ammonia is identical to the EPA threshold for ammonia (10,000 pounds). Therefore this change should have minimal impact on our industry.

The “Safety Case” Regulatory Model (page 109)

We are strongly opposed to shifting to the “Safety Case” regulatory model. Facilities have invested a lot of time and resources and in many cases are justifiably proud of their PSM and RM Programs. To suddenly move away from these programs in favor of a method not commonly practiced in the United States seems highly inappropriate.

Streamlining RMP Requirements (page 112)

None of the issues listed in this RFI would make it easier for regulated sources to comply with RMP. Therefore, minimizing the number of changes to the existing regulation would have the greatest impact on streamlining.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comment on the future direction of the CFATS program. Please let us know if you have any questions about our submission or if we can be of any assistance as the rulemaking process moves forward.


American Frozen Food Institute
American Meat Institute
Global Cold Chain Alliance
International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration
International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses
Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association
U.S. Poultry and Egg Association