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On March 14, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed much-anticipated amendments to the Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations. This column summarizes the proposed amendments and industry’s response to them.
The genesis of the proposal is President Obama’s Executive Order (EO) 13650, which was issued in the aftermath of the catastrophic explosion that occurred in April 2013 that claimed 15 lives in West, Texas. The EO requires various federal agencies to develop options for better chemical facility safety and security that identify “improvements to existing risk management practices through agency programs, private sector initiatives, government guidance, outreach, standards, and regulations.” The EPA’s RMP regulations fall squarely in the zone of interest for purposes of the EO. Required under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act, these regulations, codified at 40 C.F.R. Part 68, apply to stationary sources that hold specified regulated substances in excess of certain thresholds. These “facilities” are required to assess their potential release impacts, undertake steps to prevent releases, plan for emergency response to releases, and summarize this information in a risk management plan submitted to the EPA.
On April 29, 2016, Australia's National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) published the third consultation paper on its reform initiative. See https://www.nicnas.gov.au/about-nicnas/nicnas-reforms/consultation-paper-3 and https://www.nicnas.gov.au/about-nicnas/nicnas-reforms Under the reforms, the requirements to establish that a new chemical can be classified as being not hazardous to human health or the environment, and therefore falls in Hazard Band A, include consideration of several factors, including whether the chemical is a nanomaterial. The consultation paper states that the risk matrix applies to chemicals (and their nanoforms) that are not listed on the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS).
On May 11, 2016, the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) will hold a webinar for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) that will focus on the experiences, successes, and challenges for SMEs working in nanotechnology and on issues of interest to the business community. See http://www.nano.gov/node/160 The National Science Foundation's Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing, at Northeastern University's College of Engineering in Boston, will host the webinar.
Registration is now open for the June 6-7, 2016, U.S.-European Union (EU) "Bridging NanoEHS Research Efforts" joint workshop. See https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1-wZatJVQ3b9LSx9rrJeeEZqFO-8DZVs-80txK-9DBmQ/viewform and http://us-eu.org/2016%20-us-eu-nanoehs-workshop/ The workshop will bring together the U.S.-EU Communities of Research (COR), which serve as a platform for U.S. and EU scientists to share information on nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety (nanoEHS) research.
On April 18, 2016, the Silver Nanotechnology Working Group (SNWG) submitted comments on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's (NIOSH) draft NIOSH Current Intelligence Bulletin: Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Silver Nanomaterials. See https://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=CDC-2016-0001-0017 and https://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=CDC-2016-0001-0002 The draft Current Intelligence Bulletin (CIB) includes a review and assessment of the currently available scientific literature on the toxicological effects of exposure to silver nanoparticles in experimental animal and cellular systems, and on the occupational exposures to silver dust and fume and the associated health effects.
On March 25, 2016, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its long-awaited revised standards for occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica (81 Fed. Reg. 16286). OSHA issued two separate standards — one for general industry and maritime, and the other for the construction industry — to tailor requirements to the unique circumstances found in these sectors. The rule impacts more than 2.3-million American workers across a wide spectrum of industries, according to OSHA, and is expected to save the lives of more than 600 workers per year. Its implementation will likely have broad logistical and cost implications for many employers in numerous industry sectors. This article provides highlights of the final rule.
Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform has been a “work in progress” for years. House and Senate passage in 2015 of substantive TSCA reform measures considerably improved the odds that Congress would enact TSCA-reform legislation in 2016. Recent events suggest otherwise, however, and as of this writing in mid-March the fate of TSCA reform remains decidedly uncertain. Momentum has dissipated as a dithering House has been slow to engage with Senate counterparts to reconcile the different approaches contemplated under each bill. The surprisingly harsh Republican response to Associate Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s untimely demise has hardened the partisan divide that threatens to tank Congressional action on any important initiative, let alone legislation as significant and potentially divisive as TSCA reform. It is hoped that cooler heads will prevail and leverage the hard work and momentum that has brought us to this momentous place in history. This Commentary provides an update on the current state of TSCA reform efforts.
On January 26, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) pesticide general permit (PGP) for public comment. The publication marks the first reissuance of the PGP since its inception in 2011. The Sixth Circuit’s decision in National Cotton Council v. EPA, F.3d 927 (6th Cir. 2009), which vacated EPA’s 2007 rule exempting pesticides from NPDES permitting, required EPA to issue the PGP. In October 2011, EPA published a five-year PGP, which expires on October 31, 2016. Additionally, all states with delegated NPDES program authority developed and issued state versions of the PGP.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced on March 23, 2016, a new publication co-authored with the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and Joint Research Center (JRC) that illustrates how to use data for different nanoforms within the same substance registration.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on February 25, 2016, amendments to the accidental release prevention requirements of the Risk Management Programs (RMP) under the Clean Air Act Section 112(r)(7). This column summarizes this important proposed rule.