Crosby, TX Arkema Facility's Risk Management Plan

Alexander Rony filed this request with the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America.
Tracking #

EPA-R6-2017-011043

Est. Completion None
Status
Payment Required

Communications

From: Alexander Rony

To Whom It May Concern:

I. Description of Records Sought

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act for the Risk Management Plan for the Arkema chemical facility in Crosby, TX.

I would prefer the request be filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not. If you determine that portions of a requested record are exempt from disclosure, please redact the exempt portions and provide the remainder of the record.

II. Request for Expedited Processing

Due to the exceptional circumstances currently surrounding this facility, I request expedited treatment of this FOIA request. There is a threat to lives or public safety; I am primarily engaged in disseminating information (see section IV); and there is an urgent need to inform the public concerning a government activity.

The Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/news/houston-weather/hurricaneharvey/article/Chemical-plant-hit-by-Harvey-cannot-prevent-12162255.php) reported that the chemical plant is at imminent risk of catastrophe. The facility, which produces organic peroxides, had its cooling power knocked out by floodwaters, and a fire or explosion is considered inevitable. Employees and surrounding residents have been evacuated.

Richard Rowe, CEO of Arkema Inc., stated, "There is no way to prevent an explosion or fire." Officials predict that it will be six days before waters recede to the point where workers can access the chemicals and attempt to cool them down. The public urgently needs information contained in the Risk Management Plan, including the hazard assessments, emergency response program, and plans to communicate with the public in the event of disaster.

The Environmental Protection Agency requires that certain facilities containing hazardous substances submit Risk Management Plans. Agencies including the EPA are currently involved in Hurricane Harvey disaster response and will be responsible for carrying out aspects of the Risk Management Plan's emergency response program and dealing with the aftermath of any chemical fires, explosions, leaks, or emissions.

III. Request for a Fee Waiver

I respectfully request that you waive all fees in connection with this request as provided by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii). The Sierra Club is a national environmental nonprofit with no commercial interest in obtaining the requested information. Instead, our organization intends to analyze and disseminate the requested information free of charge so that the public can be better informed about this ongoing crisis.

The subject matter of the requested records is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government by disclosing when and how agencies are expected to respond to a disaster at the Arkema chemical plant. The Sierra Club and its supporters have demonstrated interest and expertise in the subject area, as the organization has made many recommendations on how to safeguard public health from toxic chemicals and industrial accidents.

We currently have staff in Texas educating the public about Hurricane Harvey's impacts and developing policies for recovering from the storm (see http://content.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2017/08/least-10-houston-area-chemical-facilities-and-oil-and-gas-refineries-have for an example).

IV. Media Requester Status

In addition to the public interest fee waiver, I ask to be properly categorized as a representative of the news media. The bulk of my professional duties at the Sierra Club entails planning and writing content about public policy, including composing mass communications to our followers, analyzing FOIA responses, and coordinating press outreach. Here are some examples that resulted from my work:

https://sierraclub.org/planet/2017/04/hiring-freeze-prevented-epa-filling-hundreds-jobs
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/05/19/nearly-700-vacancies-at-cdc-because-of-trump-administration-hiring-freeze/
http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/4480/over-700000-people-tell-government-to-block-seed-mergers

The Sierra Club has the ability and intention to disseminate the information it receives through this request. The information may be shared through emails to an audience reaching into the millions, Facebook and Twitter posts reaching tens of thousands of followers, articles on our often-visited website, and analysis provided to the media.

In the event that there are fees, please inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response.

Sincerely,

Alexander Rony
Sierra Club

From: foia_hq@epa.gov

This message is to confirm your request submission to the FOIAonline application: View Request. Request information is as follows: (https://foiaonline.regulations.gov:443/foia/action/public/view/request?objectId=090004d281572df0)
* Tracking Number: EPA-HQ-2017-011043
* Requester Name: Alexander Rony
* Date Submitted: 08/31/2017
* Request Status: Submitted
* Description: Requesting the Risk Management Plan for the Arkema chemical facility in Crosby, TX..

From: r6foia@epa.gov

The FOIA request EPA-HQ-2017-011043 has had its Tracking Number changed to EPA-R6-2017-011043. This is normally due to the request being transferred to another agency (for example, EPA to Dept. of Commerce) or to a sub-agency to process it. Additional details for this request are as follows:
* Old Tracking Number: EPA-HQ-2017-011043
* New Tracking Number: EPA-R6-2017-011043
* Requester Name: Alexander Rony
* Date Submitted: 08/31/2017
* Long Description: Requesting the Risk Management Plan for the Arkema chemical facility in Crosby, TX..

From: r6foia@epa.gov

Records Uploaded
09/06/2017 02:54 PM FOIA Request: EPA-R6-2017-011043

  • FOIA Letter MM - Responsive Records Being Released and Referred

From: Alexander Rony

Thank you for the letter in response to my FOIA request (EPA-R6-2017-011043). It is my understanding that the release of records may be delayed due to the need to provide explanations for each redaction's exemption(s). In order to advance this urgent request, I would accept the Risk Management Plan without redaction explanations in the document itself.

Thank you,
Alexander Rony
Sierra Club

From: r6foia@epa.gov

09/07/2017 08:31 AM FOIA Request: EPA-R6-2017-011043

From: r6foia@epa.gov

Your request for Expedited Processing for the FOIA request EPA-R6-2017-011043 has been denied. Additional details for this request are as follows:
* Request Created on: 08/31/2017
* Expedited Disposition Reason: Did not meet media criteria
* Request Long Description: Requesting the Risk Management Plan for the Arkema chemical facility in Crosby, TX..

From: Alexander Rony

Hello, is there an update for my request (EPA-R6-2017-011043)? Last I heard, the document was sent back to the review stage for more precise redaction explanations.

Thank you,
Alexander Rony
Sierra Club

From: Ford, Mark

Dear Alexander Rony,

My name is Mark Ford and I am an Attorney with the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 6, Dallas, Texas Office of Regional Counsel. I am reaching out to you regarding your above referenced Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA). At this time, I am updating you that we are gathering and reviewing the requested information. We anticipate to reach out to you again on or before October 6 as to a status.

Mark Ford
Senior Attorney/ORC
Superfund/FOIA

From: Ford, Mark

Mr. Rony,

Are you interested in coming into the Region 6 Dallas, TX office to conduct a physical file review? Please "reply to all" so schedules can be coordinated.

Mark Ford
Senior Attorney/ORC
Superfund/FOIA

From: Alexander Rony

Hi Mr. Ford,

No, I am not able to come in personally.

Alexander Rony

From: Ortiz, Diana

Mr. Rony,

This e-mail is in reference to your subject FOIA. We are in need of clarification for your request. Will you please contact me at (214) 665-7315.

Thank you

Diana Ortiz
Superfund FOIA Coordinator
Information Management & Logistics Team (6SF-VI)
(214) 665-7315

From: Environmental Protection Agency

October 18, 2017

Mr. Alexander Rony
Sierra Club
MuckRock Dept. MR 42650
Somerville, MA 02144-2516

Dear Mr. Rony,

This letter is In response to FOIA # EPA-R6-2017-011043, requesting the Risk Management Plan (RMP) data for
the Arkema Chemical Inc., facility located in Crosby, Texas. Your request was to obtain the facility RMP report
with Offsite Consequence Analysis (OCA) data, which requires a site visit to the US EPA Region 6, Dallas, Texas
office. However, if the request is to obtained a copy of the facility RMP report without the RMP OCA data, you
should submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the US EPA, Washington, DC Headquarters (HQ)
office. A request for a non-OCA report, would be in its entirety from the non-OCA National Database. This
information can be provided on CD, which cost about $190.00. Just providing, one report for a particular facility
is not an option. The entire data, would have to be purchased. Please contact Ms. Margaret Gerardin , US EPA,
HQ at 202-564-2491, for more detailed information.

If this regional FOIA is no longer needed, please submit in writing your cancellation referencing the above FOIA

number. Please provide response to me via email or letter. Should you have any questions, you may contact me

at the number listed below.
Thanks,

Elizabeth R. Rogers
RMP Enforcement Officer
U. S. EPA - Region 6 (6SF-EP)
Emergency Management Branch
Superfund Division
1445 Ross Avenue, 12th Floor
Dallas, Texas 75202
Office Phone (214)665-6708
Fax Number (214)665-7447
email: rogers.elizabeth@epa.gov

From: Alexander Rony

Dear Ms. Rogers,

This is in response to your October 18 communication regarding my FOIA request (EPA-R6-2017-011043). I would accept the Risk Management Plan (RMP) without the offsite consequence analysis (OCA). My original request was to the EPA headquarters (the original tracking number was EPA-HQ-2017-011043), and it was reassigned to your office. I am happy to receive that document from either EPA office, but it makes no sense for me to withdraw my request and resubmit it to the same location, restarting this entire process.

I am appealing the cost estimate. First, I was already told on September 5 that my request would not be billable (https://cdn.muckrock.com/foia_files/2017/09/07/Not_Billable__Exp_Denial_R6-2017-011043.pdf). Second, if that is not the case, then the EPA needs to consider my original requests for a fee waiver and for media requester status.

Lastly, I see no reason why the EPA would not be able to release the RMP for a single site. It appears that the EPA has released individual non-OCA RMPs to FOIA requesters in the past ("As an Agency, we have received repeated FOIA requests for access to the non-OCA portions of RMPs that we are compelled to grant." http://www.environmentalsafetyupdate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/248/2013/07/20111207-RMP-Email-Notice.pdf). I get documents all the time from FOIA requests that only contain relevant portions, and if you can export and save all the data into a format that can be saved onto a CD, then there is a way to isolate the Arkema RMP data.

Regards,
Alexander Rony

From: Environmental Protection Agency

A letter stating that the request appeal has been received and is being processed.

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Mr. Rony,

I was unaware of your original request to EPA HQ’s office. In my previous response to your request, it was my understanding
from the Region 6 FOIA coordinator that you were unable to visit the regional office. However, in order to view (read-only
access) the Arkema Risk Management Plan (RMP) with or without Offsite Consequences Analysis (OCA) data, a visit to the
U.S. EPA Region 6 federal reading room is required. Because of the federal statute and regulations of the information, the
public only has access to the information through a federal reading room. If you are still interested in coming to the Region 6
office, please let me know. Any additional concerns, you may contact me at the number listed below.
Thanks,

Elizabeth R. Rogers
RMP Enforcement Officer
U. S. EPA - Region 6 (6SF-EP)
Emergency Management Branch
Superfund Division
Office Phone (214)665-6708
Fax Number (214)665-7447
email: rogers.elizabeth@epa.gov

From: Environmental Protection Agency

The FOIA request EPA-R6-2017-011043 has had its Tracking Number changed to EPA-HQ-2017-011043. This is normally due to the request being transferred to another agency (for example, EPA to Dept. of Commerce) or to a sub-agency to process it. Additional details for this request are as follows:
* Old Tracking Number: EPA-R6-2017-011043
* New Tracking Number: EPA-HQ-2017-011043
* Requester Name: Alexander Rony
* Date Submitted: 08/31/2017
* Long Description: Requesting the Risk Management Plan for the Arkema chemical facility in Crosby, TX..

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Hi Margaret - The contact info for Alexander Rony is 415-977-5739.

Hi Alexander - This FOIA request was transferred from EPA Region 6 to EPA HQ if you have questions on the status of your FOIA request.

Thanks,
Nancy

Nancy Ho
EPA Region 6 FOIA Team
Mailing Address: 1445 Ross Ave Ste 1200, Mail Code 6MD-OE, Dallas, TX 75202-2733
Tel: 214-665-3179 || Email: ho.nancy@epa.gov<mailto:ho.nancy@epa.gov>

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request No. EPA-HQ-2017-011043
This letter concerns the above-referenced Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, received by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) on 31 August 2017, in which you requested:
"Requesting the Risk Management Plan for the Arkema chemical facility in Crosby, TX...".
The Agency is diligently processing your FOIA request. However, we have questions with respect to the following item: Please acknowledge and accept the fee estimate for providing the RMP National Non-OCA Database or kindly withdraw the request.
We would like to provide you the opportunity to clarify the records that you are seeking. This FOIA request is tolled until we receive your clarification or modification. Please respond to this request for clarification or modification within ten calendar days from the date of this letter.  Once we receive your clarification or modification, we will continue processing your FOIA request. If we do not receive a response from you within this time period, we will consider your request to be voluntarily withdrawn.

  • EPA-HQ-2017-01104320-20Request20Clarification202620Fee20Estimate.pdf

From: Alexander Rony

Dear Ms. Gerardin,

We may be interested in paying for the RMP National non-OCA database. How would this work -- would we have digital access to the live database, or would it be provided as an exported file? We work with some volunteers who are interested in accessing the non-OCA data, would we be able to grant them access if we pay? To what extent is this database transferable to others, and if it isn't, could we pay for a third party's access?

Thank you,
Alexander Rony

From: Environmental Protection Agency

01/11/2018 11:11 AM FOIA Request: EPA-HQ-2017-011043

Dear Mr. Rony,
Re: Freedom of Information Act Request No. EPA-HQ-2017-011043
The letter below was sent to you, the requester, on December 6th, 2017. As of January 11th, 2018, no response has been received. This is the 2nd request. Please respond.
--- --- ---
This letter concerns the above-referenced Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, received by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on 31 August 2017, in which you requested the following:
"Requesting the Risk Management Plan for the Arkema chemical facility in Crosby, TX..."
We can provide you with the RMP National non-OCA (non-Offsite Consequence Analysis) database which you can sort. Please note that we do not create custom databases nor provide individual RMPs. The estimated cost to fulfill this request is $189.55.
If you wish to view a complete RMP (including OCA data), please contact your nearest Federal Reading Room for more information: https://www.epa.gov/rmp/federal-reading-rooms-risk-management-plans-rmp.
Please respond to this email, letting us know if you accept the fee estimate or wish to withdraw your request.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Margaret Gerardin
Office of Emergency Management

From: Alexander Rony

Hi Margaret, I am interested in accepting the fee estimate for FOIA Request No. EPA-HQ-2017-011043, but I have some questions:

Would we have digital access to the live database, or would it be provided as an exported file? We work with some volunteers who are interested in accessing the non-OCA data, would we be able to grant them access if we pay? To what extent is this database transferable to others, and if it isn't, could we pay for a third party's access?

From: Environmental Protection Agency

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request No. EPA-HQ-2017-011043
Response to your email questions.

From: Alexander Rony

Thanks for your response to my FOIA request (EPA-HQ-2017-011043). Yes, I would like to move forward with paying the fee to get access to the non-OCA RMP database, as you stated. Can you please send me the final cost (otherwise I assume it is the $189.55 estimate), where we should send the check, and to whom we should address the check.

Thank you,
Alexander

From: Alexander Rony

I'm following up on my January 23 email on EPA-HQ-2017-011043. I accept the fee estimate of $189.55 and would like to know where to send the check and to whom we should address it.

Thank you,
Alexander

From: Environmental Protection Agency

03/06/2018 09:45 AM FOIA Request: EPA-HQ-2017-011043

From: Alexander Rony

Dear Ms. Gérardin,

Thank you for your March 1 response letter. It indicated that a DVD and invoice were included, but the service that I use for FOIA requests (MuckRock) claims not to have received those documents. Can you verify that those were shipped? Thank you.

Regards,
Alexander Rony

From: Environmental Protection Agency

A letter stating the requester must agree to or prepay assessed or estimated fees in order for the agency to continue processing the request.

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