Download Your Free Report Now!
Your email address will not be published.

Risk Management: Understanding the General Duty Clause

Environmental Management
by Kelly Lagana
"Yesterday we told you about a company that will pay $225,000 in fines for RMP violations—some of these violations include the General Duty Clause, which requires regulated facilities to identify hazards that may result from the release of extremely hazardous substances.<"


It’s no surprise that this can be tricky for a company—there is no specific list of substances subject to the general duty provisions. The general duty provisions apply to owners and operators of all stationary sources that store or manufacture any extremely hazardous substances. There is no single list of extremely hazardous substances. Extremely hazardous substances include the list of regulated substances found at 40 CFR 68 and extremely hazardous substances under EPCRA 302 (40 CFR 355, Appendices A and B).

The Senate report on the Clean Air Act Amendments provides criteria that may be used to determine if a substance is extremely hazardous. The report indicates that an "extremely hazardous substance" is any substance that causes death or serious injury because of its acute toxic effect or as a result of an explosion or fire, or that would cause substantial property damage by blast, fire, corrosion, or other reaction (Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Clean Air Act Amendments of 1989, Senate Report No. 228, 101st Congress, 1st Session 211 (1989)). It is up to the owner or operator to determine what chemicals at the facility are extremely hazardous substances.


Forget expensive calls to lawyers and consultants. With Enviro.BLR.com, you get instant access, 24/7. Try it out today and get the NEW 2013 EHS Salary Guide, absolutely free. Download Your Free Report.


What Do You Need to Do?

While facilities that have processes that use a listed substance above the threshold limit must prepare RMPs, there are no requirements for processes that use an extremely hazardous substance below the threshold levels. At a minimum level, though, owners and operators must:

  • Identify all hazardous chemicals used or produced at the facility. This includes more than the listed chemicals.
  • Identify the hazards associated with the chemicals using appropriate hazard assessment and techniques. This could include modeling, risk assessment, or engineering calculations to determine the distance a toxic chemical can travel and still be lethal. The assessment should result in the following information:
    • The hazards associated with each extremely hazardous substance
    • The potential release scenarios
    • The consequences associated with each release scenario
  • Design and maintain a safe facility for processes that involve hazardous chemicals:
    • Follow applicable design codes, applicable standards, and industry standards.
    • Identify, research, and apply design safety codes applicable to the substance in the process.
    • Consider risks from adjacent processes.
    • Update equipment to current codes and standards.
    • Attempt to substitute less hazardous substances for extremely hazardous substances.
    • Minimize inventories of extremely hazardous substances.
    • Implement a quality control program.
    • Develop written standard operating procedures for each aspect of the process.
    • Implement and evaluate training programs for employees on the hazards of the processes and substances.
    • When changes occur, evaluate how they impact any of the identified hazards.
    • Investigate any incidents and determine if there are ways to prevent similar occurrences.
    • Perform self-audits.

Need an answer fast? Relax. Our editors guarantee a personalized response to your questions within 3 business days. Take a free trial of Enviro.BLR.com and see what everyone is talking about. For a limited time, also receive the NEW free report: 2013 EHS Salary Guide. Download Your Free Report


  • Take appropriate measures to prevent releases and minimize the consequences of any accidental release that may occur. Appropriate measures may include:
    • Identifying impacted populations
    • Procedures to stop further releases or to mitigate the effects of a release
    • Identifying emergency response equipment
    • Coordinating with local emergency planning and response personnel
    • Training employees to recognize abnormal situations
    • Conducting periodic exercises to ensure that the measures are adequate.

Whether you need facts about writing your ICP or some other important environmental issue, Enviro.BLR.com provides all the information you need, 24/7.

This essential online environmental management tool puts practical RCRA, CAA, CWA, hazardous waste regulatory analysis and activity, news, and compliance tools at your fingertips whenever you need it. With instant access, your expensive calls to lawyers and consultants, and the risk of costly mistakes from "not knowing," are a thing of the past.

A basic subscription includes detailed environmental information and tools on federal EPA and 1 state. All 50 states are available. Full text regulations are also available as a low-cost option.

Your subscription includes:

  • State-specific regulatory analysis
  • Continuous regulatory updates—more than 500 posts each month
  • Hundreds of compliance and training tools
  • Environmental best practice and white papers
  • "Site Navigator," a powerful, easy-to-use search
  • 3-day expert answers to your questions from our editors

If you’d like to personally evaluate Enviro.BLR.com and see how it can help you comply with environmental requirements, we’ll be happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation tour of the website. Just let us know, and we’ll arrange it.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

0 Comments

Share Your Comments on This Tip

If you have comments about this tip and want to post them on this page to share your thoughts with other Environmental Daily Advisor readers, simply enter your comments below. NOTE: Your name will appear on any comments posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *