Bulk storage facility emergency managers are often responsible for predicting, preparing, complying, documenting, and possibly, responding to emergencies. The task requires site-specific planning, internal and external response coordination, training, and exercises. However if bulk storage facilities are not compliant with preparedness regulations, the ramifications can be exceedingly detrimental to employees, the environment, and the company’s financial bottom line.
In December 2015, Aloha Petroleum agreed to pay $650,000 to settle Clean Air and Clean Water acts violations at its Hilo East bulk fuel storage facility. According to the EPA, the facility exceeded emission limits at the loading rack and had inadequate secondary spill containment for the storage tanks. The company agreed to cease operations at the site until compliant modifications could be implemented.
Every month, audits and enforcement mandates are issued from various federal and state agencies that oversee bulk storage tank facilities. Costly non-compliance fines continually result from the lack of implemented, thorough, or effective regulatory compliance programs.
A methodological regulatory compliance tracking component should be part of bulk storage operator’ emergency management program. This itemized tracking process should detail applicable federal, state, and local regulation, and include information required to satisfy each applicable regulation. A regulatory tracking system should, at a minimum, contain the following components:
- Operational categories: Categories can range from air quality and hazardous materials, to construction safety and general safety and health. Depending on the detail required by the regulations, further breakouts by subcategories may also be required.
- Applicable Regulation Level: Regulations should be further broken down to Federal, state or local regulation categories.
- Time/Date Stamping: The time and date that each regulation was last updated.
- Compliance Feedback: Applicable notes regarding compliance or non-compliance.
- Industry Standard: Best practices related to compliance with specific regulatory requirements, when practical to do so.
- Facility Compliance responsibility: Identify contact assigned to maintain compliance for each regulatory requirement.
- Action Item Reporting: Provides a list of outstanding and completed action items, along with due dates and person(s) assigned. Reports should have filters to customize queries as required by the users.
Modernizing compliance tracking efforts can often result in cost savings. The tactical cost of compliance can be reduced through a web-based compliance tracking module. Updating evolving regulatory information among multiple facilities and/or incorporating new or newly acquired facilities can be effectively managed and streamlined with the use of a database. With required response plans in an easy-to-use electronic format, companies can easily confirm detailed compliance elements and effortlessly adhere to the various regulatory submission policies.
The impact of non-compliance fines and potential shutdowns can be financially destructive for bulk storage facilities, as well as detrimental to community relations and corporate image. Yet, maintaining regulatory compliance does require a dedicated budget. Fortunately, a web-based regulatory tracking system can reduce the overall cost of company-wide compliance by:
- Identifying applicable regulations based on operations and site-specific details
- Automating core compliance and response planning activities
- Simplifying automated tracking and management
- Enabling EHS employees to spend time planning and performing versus complying and reporting
- Automating corporate governance and controls
- Optimizing and coordinating drills, testing, and actual emergency responses
- Updating regulation rules and controls for every facility
New or newly acquired facilities can be easily absorbed into a web-based company-wide regulatory compliance tracking program. EHS managers or the facility managers at new locations should perform a thorough regulatory gap analysis or audit to identify compliance deficiencies. Managers of a new or acquired location should then conform, comply, and correspond with company directives, disclose applicable regulations, and mitigate non-compliant components to ensure compliance.
The cost savings for implementing a modernized, web-based regulatory tracking component can be significant. Considering regulations are aimed at prevention, minimizing the impact of incidents, and improving a company’s ability to respond when emergencies occur, companies should continue to evaluate the effectiveness and tediousness of their current programs to determine if a web-based program is a better fit in 2016.