Rancho LPG resolved its noncompliance with risk management plan regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said.
The violations ended up discovered during an EPA investigation of the San Pedro, CA, facility, which began in April 2010. The facility addressed the violations and now adheres to risk management plan requirements, which is a regulation under the federal Clean Air Act. As part of the agreement, Rancho LPG will also pay a civil penalty of $260,000.
“When a company handling high-risk materials operates in close proximity to a neighboring community, it’s critical to take steps to safeguard the residents,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Since EPA began its enforcement action over a year ago, Rancho LPG has invested over $7 million in plant improvements to bring its facility into compliance with federal environmental laws and to provide additional safety measures.”
Rancho LPG primarily stores large amounts of butane and propane. EPA investigations found the facility did not have complete safety information to evaluate potential seismic stresses at the site, failed to analyze the potential loss of its water supply in the event of an earthquake, and failed to properly inspect and test equipment, including tanks and drain systems used to contain accidental releases.
The company said it spent $7.2 million at the facility since the EPA’s investigation began for new safety controls, tank inspections, seismic upgrades, and improved coordination with local emergency responders.
When properly implemented, risk management plans help prevent chemical releases and minimize their potential impacts at facilities that store large amounts of hazardous substances and flammable chemicals. Facilities must update and resubmit their risk management plan at least once every five years. The EPA and state and local agencies use that information to help assess chemical risks to surrounding communities and to prepare for emergency responses.
In addition, today EPA opened a public comment period on potential revisions to its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations, a result of President Obama’s Executive Order 13650 to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities and reduce the risk of hazardous chemicals to workers and communities.
During the 90-day comment period EPA is asking for information about safety management approaches to enhance public health and safety, and aid local fire, police, and emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies. EPA is also seeking comment on adding additional risk management program elements.