Note: please see our blog post detailing the RSR Rule amendments published/effective on July 13, 2016
EPA’s Refinery Sector Rule (RSR), finalized in December 2015 and effective as of February 1, 2016, contains a wide variety of compliance obligations with a challenging schedule for required compliance actions. This is further complicated by a last-minute proposed rule that would amend the schedule if finalized, as well as requests for extensions that are pending in various state regulatory agencies.
So what should your refinery be doing now?
We’ve followed what AFPM and others have suggested and we see the most pressing needs to be:
JBE sees the need to understand currently applicable requirements as particularly important and perhaps misunderstood. General duty clause obligations were effective with the compliance date of the rule (February 1, 2016), and were not proposed to be extended by the proposed rule which is still pending. Some (but not all) refineries may have requested extensions for this via state agency submittals.
Given this backdrop, the following actions seem particularly important:
JBE can help by performing a tabular tank applicability review and developing (and executing) a vent identification and applicability process. Our process includes a workflow that focuses on categorizing and identifying vents in a simplified step-by-step manner.
Equipment vent compliance under the Refinery Sector Rule’s 40 CFR 63 Subpart CC (Subpart CC) is a challenge, as the requirements are significantly different depending on the type of vent being considered, and the applicability triggers and exemptions are scattered throughout the regulation. Complicating the issue is availability of facility information – many refineries will not have a consolidated list of vents that is readily available for review to begin the applicability process.
Where to begin: We suggest staff interviews and reviewing lists of process vessels, PFDs, and other lists/information to first identify your universe of vents. Then, use the exemptions potentially applicable to all vents to weed out those you can, and categorize the remaining ones into the general groups Subpart CC recognizes: pressure relief devices, miscellaneous process vents, and maintenance vents (a subset of miscellaneous process vents).
Then follow a step-by-step process: Group the vents further into the different “buckets” as shown in the diagram below. Again, as Subpart CC requirements significantly vary depending on the type of vent, these groupings are very important. In our experience, there are many ways to simplify this grouping process. An example is performing applicability for multiple groupings at once that have the same available exemptions.
The goals are to identify and categorize vents in the simplest way possible as described above, and then use this information to determine which requirements apply in a systematic way – all while minimizing the impact of the rule. Subpart CC is difficult to navigate, includes many possible exemptions in multiple sections, and has widely varying requirements.
JBE can help. We have developed an applicability process that streamlines this complicated regulation, and can assist in making difficult applicability decisions along the way to obtain the desired result: to group as many vents as possible into the red buckets (exempt vents) and blue buckets (fewer applicable requirements), and the fewest vents possible in the green buckets (more stringent requirements).