On June 11, 2020, EPA’s Region 6 office in Dallas, Texas issued “EPA Advises Facility Operators to Prepare for Hazardous Weather Events.” EPA Region 6 includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Hurricanes and Storms Are Predictable
The Advisory reminds operators of the “requirements for preventing, minimizing and reporting chemical releases.” Moreover, because hurricanes and storms are predictable and usually allow for preparation, operators must:
- Review procedures for shutting down processes and securing facilities appropriately—especially hazardous chemical storage—or otherwise implement appropriate safe operating procedures.
- Review updated state-federal guidelines for flooding preparedness.
- Assure all employees are familiar with requirements and procedures to contact the National Response Center in case a spill or release occurs.
- Review local response contacts, including Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) and State Emergency Response Centers (SERCs).
Facility operators should appreciate that EPA and state agencies will view the “advisory” recommendations as mandatory, based on EPA’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) and other requirements. Moreover, failure to comply with the preparedness guidelines may prevent an operator from successfully asserting the defense that the release was unavoidable, should one occur.
To see the Advisory, which includes a link to the guidelines for flooding preparedness (“Flood Preparedness-Recommended Best Practices”) https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-advises-facility-operators-prepare-hazardous-weather-events