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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 include provisions that require facilities to address the potential risk associated with the storage, use, and handling of toxic and flammable substances. The purpose of the rules is to reduce the number and severity of accidental releases of chemicals to the atmosphere. Many wastewater and water treatment plants are subject to the Risk Management Plan (RMP) regulations because they store regulated chemicals—most commonly chlorine, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, and methane (digester gas).

One requirement of an RMP program is the preparation of a hazard assessment to determine the possible effects an accidental chemical release would have on the public surrounding a treatment plant. Because the regulations require conservative assumptions, the hazard assessment can overestimate the effects of a release, and it can be important to provide the public with information that allows them to understand the effects of a release. Part of the purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the assumptions the regulations require to be used are conservative and result in an unrealistic estimate of the impacts on the public. This paper also provides information to wastewater and water treatment facilities and emergency response agencies regarding the time available to minimize the possibility of injury through either evacuation or sheltering of plant personnel and the public surrounding a facility in the event of a release.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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