Readers will remember that I’ve done blog posts about EPA’s intention to re-post some of the RMP data that was taken off of the web after 9-11 and the late response to that planned action by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Well I just learned that this morning the EPA notified a number of industry groups and government agencies that they will be postponing the implementation of that plan pending further discussions with the various communities of interest.
An email sent this morning outlines the security concerns that they have heard in response to the notification of their planned action. It notes:
“Reasonable concerns have been raised that certain types of non OCA [off-site consequence analysis] data should not be posted. We have heard, and are sensitive to these concerns. The Agency has also received comments that non OCA data should not be made available on the Agency’s website in lieu of the current access regime – which requires more personal contact to obtain the information than if it was freely available on the internet – makes it less likely that someone seeking to misuse RMP information will use government sources to obtain it. Again, we understand the concern and would like to consider other approaches if such can be found.”
The email goes on to explain that the EPA also has a legal responsibility to ensure that local communities have reasonable access to data that can be used to formulate protective plans for accidents [and potential terrorist attacks on these facilities; though that isn’t specifically mentioned]. The memo notes:
“We are also aware of and sensitive to local community “right to know” about certain risks that are present within them, and that reasonably easy access to such information is preferred when that makes sense. For this reason, the EPA is looking to continue the dialogue on how we might more easily allow access to share some portions of RMP data in a way that balances the public’s right-to-know about the chemical risks present in their community, with the need to protect our national security.”
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months.