Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a 60-day notice of their intent to renew the information collection request (ICR) that allows them to collect information about vulnerability assessments (VA) and emergency response plans for water treatment facilities. The current ICR (2040-0253) approval expires on February 28, 2011.
There are no material changes to the ICR outlined in this renewal. The EPA notice explains that they expect the average respondent to this information collection request to require 237 hours to complete the information collection-submission process. EPA notes that (75 FR 52326):
“There is no decrease in the total estimated respondent burden compared with that identified in the ICR currently approved by OMB. This reflects EPA's continued need to collect documents that were included in the original estimate, but still have not been submitted to the Agency.”
Since the VA submission requirement applies to all water treatment facilities that serve 3,300 customers it seems that the EPA must have severely underestimated the number of covered facilities since the number of facilities that have yet to submit their VA has not changed in three years. This also points out the lack of authority to impose sanctions for not following this regulation.
I can’t help but note once again that this EPA program, in full accordance with Congressional direction, does not require water treatment facilities to have a security program to protect the facilities against terrorist attack. They must simply have an emergency response plan to respond to the results of such attacks. Congress just can’t seem to get it right; the CFATS program requires the establishment of a site security program to prevent an attack but no emergency response plan to respond to an attack. Maybe they ought to combine the two programs.
Public comments on this ICR renewal notice may be submitted at the Federal Rule Making Portal (Docket Number EPA-HQ-OW-2003-0013). Comments need to be submitted by October 25, 2010. EPA will respond to any comments received when they subsequently publish their 30-day notice.