Frequent Questions

What Incident Investigations and Root Cause Analysis requirement have changed from the proposed to final rule?

Changes to the proposed rule regarding incident investigations and root cause analysis requirements include:

  • eliminating the proposed revisions to the definition of catastrophic release;
  • requiring the incident investigation report to include the consequences/impacts of the incident and emergency response actions taken;
  • modifying the definition of “root cause” to eliminate the phrase “that identifies a correctable failure(s) in management systems.”
  • adding to the Preamble, guidance on the meaning of “near-misses” and
  • conveying deference to industry practices.

As part of this effort, EPA had proposed to clarify the definition of catastrophic release.  The RMP rule (see 40 CFR 68.60(a) and 40 CFR 68.81(a)) currently requires investigation of an incident that “…resulted in, or could reasonably have resulted in a catastrophic release.”  EPA had proposed to modify the definition of catastrophic release to be identical to reportable accidents under the five-year accident history requirement.  Public comments received stated that the proposed definition created a potential burden by inadvertently expanding the number of investigated accidental releases.  Subsequently, in the final rule EPA retained the existing definition of catastrophic release based on public comments describing the burden created by the revised definition.

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