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The US Environmental Protection Agency recently entered into a proposed settlement agreement with a company due to violations of their Risk Management Plan (RMP).  This settlement agreement forces the company to pay a $950,000 penalty as well as perform audits of their 31 facilities in 19 states across the country. RMPs are required to be developed under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act and must contain a hazard assessment, a prevention program and an emergency response program. The plans are required for facilities which emit more than the threshold quantities of a regulated substance (one of 140 listed toxic and flammable substances in 40 CFR Section 68.130).

One important component of implementing an RMP is auditing and making modifications to the plan in order to ensure compliance with the regulations. Therefore, it is important companies consider auditing their plan prior to a formal inspection and audit by regulatory agencies. Often times, this is performed by a third party which can provide an independent review, allowing the company to be aware of any deficiencies and make changes in advance of the formal audit, ensuring the RMP is adequate. Third party audits must include staff who are familiar with both environmental and safety regulations and procedures.

Companies must know where gaps in their RMP exist and revise their plan prior to an catastrophic accident or release.  Plan ahead and perform your audits now before it is too late.