Do I have to conduct incident investigations of releases resulting from theft?
The incident investigation provisions of 40 CFR Part 68 (§§68.60 and 68.81) require facilities to investigate incidents that resulted in or could reasonably have resulted in a catastrophic release. Are covered facilities required to perform incident investigations of releases resulting from theft of covered substances, such as anhydrous ammonia?
If an incident caused by theft or other criminal action at a covered facility resulted in or could reasonably have resulted in a catastrophic release of a regulated substance, then the owner or operator of the covered facility must perform an incident investigation. If it would be unreasonable, based on the owner/operator's knowledge of the facility and the safeguards that are in place, to believe that the criminal act could have resulted in a catastrophic release, then an incident investigation is not required. In making such determinations, owner/operators should judge whether the theft actually resulted in or could reasonably have resulted in a major uncontrolled emission, fire, or explosion that presented an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health or the environment.
For further information on the potential hazards of anhydrous ammonia releases caused by theft, steps facilities can take to prevent theft and how to minimize health and safety risks associated with accidental releases, see EPA's Chemical Safety Alert: Anhydrous Ammonia Theft (March 2000).