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OR-OSHA changes their PSM applicability to NH3 Fertilizer and the impact it will have on RMP PDF Print E-mail
Safety Info Posts - Chemical Process Safety (PSM/RMP)
Written by Bryan Haywood   
Friday, 12 November 2010 22:47

UPDATE 08/12/12 - Region 10 EPA has now publicly stated they are now aware of how this OR-OSHA change has impacted "ammonia retail businesses" (in the state of Oregon) RMP submittals!  If you are an "anhydrous ammonia retail business" in the state of Oregon and had submitted an RMP, beware EPA may be paying you a visit if your RMP submittal was not updated in 2010 to reflect a change in Program Level (e.g. from Program 1 or 2 to a Program 3).  Here is my newsletter article from December 2010 explaining how this change in the OR-OSHA state plan PSM exemption impacted these businesses in a HUGE way regarding their RMPs....

Back in October OR-OSHA made a significant move to improve process safety related to the use of Anhydrous Ammonia in agriculture.  Some in the EHS profession have stated they were troubled by this move by a State OSHA Plan, as Federal OSHA explicitly gave "retail businesses" a blanket exemption in 1910.119(a)(2)(i) based on the flawed assumption that ALL retail businesses would have smaller containers and thus lower risks for a catastrophic release.  OR-OSHA identified that many of the agriculture "retail businesses" selling anhydrous ammonia store the chemical in large storage vessels and so they have informed these businesses in an October 2010 letter that their business would now fall under PSM.  But there is more...

Since these Oregon business were originally exempted from PSM, but NOT exempted from EPA's RMP rule, many of them filed their RMPs as Program 1 or 2, which since they did not fall under OSHA's PSM std was perfectly acceptable (and correct).  But NOW with this change in OR-OSHA's position on ammonia retail businesses, those who submitted RMPs as Programs 1 or 2, their process has NOW become a PSM covered process.  And solely due to their inclusion by OR-OSHA in PSM, these processes will NOW BECOME a PROGRAM 3 process simply because they are now a PSM covered process.  This means they will HAVE TO REVISE their RMP submittal to show they are now a Program 3 process, as well as implement a full Program 3 Prevention Plan, evaluate worst-case and alternative-case release scenarios, etc.  So in other words, not only does this impact compliance with OR-OSHA, it also changes the facility compliance profile in regards to EPA's RMP.

Here is OR-OSHA's 2010 letter to agricultural farm supply businesses.  Below the OR-OSHA letter is EPA's position on NOT exempting these businesses.

OR-OSHA Letter to agricultural farm supply businesses

 

Here is EPA's position on EXEMPTING certain agricultural businesses from RMP compliance...

Agricultural establishments that store, handle, or use certain toxic or flammable chemicals above threshold amounts must develop and implement a program to prevent accidental releases of those chemicals.

The examples below illustrate common chemicals and thresholds used in ag operations that will subject you to EPA's Risk Management Program requirements:

  • Chlorine in quantities greater than 2,500 pounds. Chlorine is commonly used in agriculture for washing fruits, vegetables, and other harvested products and for disinfection.
  • Ammonia in quantities greater than 10,000 pounds for anhydrous or 20,000 pounds for aqueous. Ammonia is often used in agriculture for food refrigeration systems. Note: Ammonia used as an agricultural nutrient when held by farmers is exempt from the requirements, as long as it is used on that establishment. It would NOT be exempt if resold or used on another establishment. Farm cooperatives and groups of farmers who buy, use, and sell ammonia are NOT exempt.
  • Flammable fuels (including propane, butane, ethane, methane, and others) in quantities greater than 10,000 pounds originally triggered the Risk Management Program requirements. The Chemical Safety Information, Site Security and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act, however, removed flammable substances used as fuel or sold as fuel at a retail facility from coverage under the Risk Management Program. Flammable substances, such as propane, butane, ethane, methane and others, used onsite as fuels are excluded from the Risk Management Program requirements. Flammable substances held for sale as fuel at retail facilities are also excluded. Flammable substances used for non-fuel purposes or held for sale by non-retail facilities are NOT excluded. If you are not sure whether a flammable substance is covered, contact EPA's RMP Hotline at 1-800-424-9346 or 703-412-9810.

These examples do not cover all the circumstances that may require you to comply with the Risk Management Program. Be sure to check Appendix A: 40 CFR 68 (PDF)(55 pp, 516K) for a list of chemicals covered by the law, and then consult Chapter 1: General Applicability from EPA's General Guidance for Risk Management Programs to determine how the requirements apply to your establishment.

(CLICK HERE to view directly from EPA site)

FYI... EPA defines a "retail business" as A retail facility is defined as a stationary source at which more than one-half of the income is obtained from direct sales to end users or at which more than one-half of the fuel sold, by volume, is sold through a cylinder exchange program (§68.3).  Click Here for more on this definition.

 
 

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