In response to comments, EPA changed the third-party audit criterion for determining the implementation to be based on conditions at the facility that could lead to an accidental release of a regulated substance, rather than on non-compliance. An implementing agency may determine that a third-party audit is necessary following inspections, audits, or facility visits, if conditions are observed at the facility that could lead to an accidental release of a regulated substance.
Other changes to this provision of the final rule include:
- allows third-party audit teams to be comprised of third-party auditor personnel as well as other personnel, including facility staff;
- revising the proposed auditor qualification criteria by removing the Professional Engineer (PE) requirement;
- eliminating the requirement to submit all auditor reports and third-party audit findings response reports to implementing agencies; and
- reducing the required timeframe for independence from three years, to two years.
In an effort to reduce the burden for facility owners and operators and to increase the availability of potential independent third-party auditors, EPA reduced the timeframe that limits the relationship between the owner/operator and the third-party auditor from three years to two years, and provides that retired employees may qualify as independent third parties.