Florida's Accidental Release Prevention and Risk Management Planning Act.

AuthorBurnaman, Ross Stafford

With a June 21 plan filing deadline almost here, Florida's emergency management officials are gearing up to implement newly delegated responsibilities to oversee risk management planning for the prevention of accidental releases of hazardous air pollutants from a variety of stationary sources. About 2,180 Florida sites, including chemical plants, petroleum refineries, paper or electronics manufacturers, potable water and waste water systems, electric and gas utilities, cold storage facilities, large warehouses or retail distribution outlets, and military bases will file detailed risk management plans with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).[1] The EPA will provide the plans to state officials.

This article presents a brief history of the development of Florida's risk management planning program, reviews aspects of Florida's delegated program, and outlines federal requirements for risk management planning.

Brief History of Program

In 1990, Congress amended the Clean Air Act to require the EPA to establish programs and requirements to prevent catastrophic chemical accidents and to mitigate the consequences of such accidents when they occur.[2] The EPA was directed to adopt rules listing regulated substances in addition to the 25 hazardous chemicals listed in the Clean Air Act, and to adopt rules establishing requirements for preparation and implementation of risk management plans and for prompt emergency response to any release of a regulated substance.

The EPA published its original regulated substances list in January 1994[3]; the list has been amended.[4] The EPA noticed the accidental re]ease prevention-risk management program (RMP) rules in June 1996.[5] On January 6, 1999, the EPA amended the rules but the plan filing deadline was not extended.[6]

In July 1996, the State Hazardous Chemicals Emergency Response Commission (SERC) established a working group to study state implementation issues associated with the EPA's risk management rules and to recommend whether Florida should seek program delegation from the EPA.[7] The SERC endorsed proposed legislation for the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to seek delegation.

The 1998 Legislature adopted the Florida Accidental Release Prevention and Risk Management Planning Act, F.S. Ch. 252, part IV (the Florida RMP act), authorizing the DCA to seek delegation from the EPA to administer the risk management planning program, except for facilities in which liquefied petroleum gas is the only regulated substance and which are subject to F.S. Ch. 527.[8]

On June 12, 1998, Florida sought delegation from the EPA. On October 20, 1998, the EPA noticed its approval of Florida's delegation request.[9]

The Florida RMP Act

The Florida RMP act provides a framework for implementation of federal delegation. The RMP act directs the DCA to establish a fee system to make the program "self-sustaining."[10] The act also outlines organizational structure; establishes inspection, audit, and enforcement authorities; specifies remedies and penalties; and provides public records protection of trade secrets.

The legislature appropriately placed the Florida RMP act in F.S. Ch. 252, the emergency management chapter. The DCA has considerable experience administering the Florida Hazardous Materials Emergency Response and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1988, which is Florida's counterpart to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA).[11] The EPA's stated philosophy for Clean Air Act risk management planning corresponds to its EPCRA philosophy: "[R]egulatory requirements, by themselves, will not guarantee safety.... [I]nformation about hazards in a community can...

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