General Duty Clause: This broad provision is located in the Clean Air Act’s Accidental Release section (Section 112(r)). The General Duty Clause states that facilities using or possessing chemicals—such as oil and gas producers, refineries, chemical manufacturers, distributors and others—have a “general duty” to identify hazards which may result from a chemical release and to take “necessary steps” to prevent such releases.
EPA has found numerous facilities in violation of the Clean Air Act’s General Duty Clause, even though EPA has yet to define this provision in any detail (including key terms “extremely hazardous substance” and “appropriate hazard assessment techniques”) or issue a regulation under it. Additionally, the lack of specificity in this provision could enable EPA to utilize the General Duty Clause to regulate chemical site security, a clear encroachment on the Department of Homeland Security’s jurisdiction.
AFPM believes that the General Duty Clause should be more prescriptive in its intent, and would therefore clarify that EPA’s mission is environmental protection, not homeland security. This would not only reinforce Federal agency jurisdiction, but also improve chemical process safety and risk management by providing certainty in complying with the Clean Air Act’s Accidental Release provisions.
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