For some time, EPA has been working on an update to its facility safety rule under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act. The existing rule requires companies to prepare a plan to submit to EPA to reduce risks from releases of hazardous substances. After the 2013 explosion at a fertilizer facility in West, Texas that killed 15 people and injured more than 200, President Obama signed Executive Order 1360 to encourage improvement in the safety and security of industrial facilities. Since that order, EPA, OSHA and the Department of Homeland Security have worked on implementing additional safety and security requirements. EPA published a proposed updated facility safety rule on February 25, 2016, and received comments on the proposed rule until May 13. The proposed rule, among other things, would mandate that certain facilities consider safer chemicals or processes in hazard assessments (Inherently Safer Technology, or "IST"); require third party audits after a reportable release to reduce the risk of future accidents; and improve coordination among facilities and local emergency responders. The chemical industry has sought to delay the rule for additional public input, and is urging the Office of Management and Budget ("OMB") to reject EPA's information collection request to collect data to use in enforcing compliance with the rule. EPA sent its final rule to OMB on October 14. Although OMB reviews usually take up to 90 days, EPA has indicated plans to promulgate the final rule in December, in advance of the new administration taking office in January.
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