About CAPP

Chemical Accident Prevention Program (CAPP)

CAPP applies in facilities that have select, highly hazardous substances in quantities above defined thresholds. These highly hazardous substances are distinguished from numerous other agency-regulated substances in that they will cause acute health impacts, that is, serious heath impacts from a relatively short- term, low concentration exposure. Some of the highly hazardous substances are covered under CAPP solely due to their flammability; CAPP also applies in facilities that manufacture explosives for sale that are classified as division 1.1 through 1.5 in the Table of Hazardous Materials under 49 CFR 172.101. Other agency-regulated substances, benzene for example which is a known carcinogen, pose chronic or long-term health impacts and are not covered under CAPP.

CAPP requirements fall into one of three categories; accident prevention, emergency response or public right-to-know. Through the accident prevention program, facilities are required to: evaluate and mitigate hazards, understand the design parameters of their processes and operate within the appropriate design limits, prepare comprehensive operating procedures, thoroughly train operators in those procedures and maintain the facility equipment and instruments to prevent premature failure. Through the emergency response program, facilities are required to develop an action plan for dealing with potential emergency situations and they are further required to coordinate emergency response activities with local responders, to ensure that the responders are prepared to deal with the emergencies appropriately.

Through the public right-to-know aspect of CAPP, all information disseminated by the facilities is available to the public, as are all site inspection reports generated by CAPP staff. There are provisions to protect trade secrets under CAPP, but submission requirements have been structured to generally preclude the need to submit such information.

CAPP is a proactive program in that it stresses hazard identification and accident prevention. The intent is to predict what could possibly go wrong and take appropriate measures to minimize the possibility of an accident occurring. CAPP staff actively inspects each facility to determine compliance and does not rely upon information provided in facility-submitted reports alone. All staff members have extensive background in facility design and operation in a wide range of industries. Qualified program inspectors help ensure that a critical evaluation is conducted at the facility and that a quality accident prevention program is implemented and maintained.


In July, 1991, the Nevada Legislature passed Senate Bill 641, the Chemical Catastrophe Prevention Act, primarily in response to a large chlorine release in Henderson, NV in May, 1991 and a large ammonium perchlorate explosion in May, 1988, also in Henderson. The resulting statute, codified at NRS 459.380 through 459.3874, directed the NDEP to develop and implement an accident prevention program, which was renamed the Chemical Accident Prevention Program, or CAPP.

Staffing and program development activities proceeded through July, 1994. During this time, numerous workshops were held, program guidance was developed and a memorandum of understanding was executed with the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement Section (OSHES) to promote coordinated implementation of CAPP with federal OSHA's Process Safety Management (PSM) regulation. Since PSM program requirements are similar in scope to CAPP, coordination with OSHES was important to prevent duplicative enforcement.

Beginning in October, 1994, regulated facilities began submitting assessment reports that outline their efforts to comply with the requirements of CAPP. Included in the reports are lists of action items that define measures that will be implemented to make the operation safer. CAPP has been involved in the review of these assessment reports and ensuring timely completion of all action items ever since.

In the 1997 legislative session, CAPP statutes were modified to enable the NDEP to seek delegation for the U.S. EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP); although NDEP is not actively seeking delegation at this time. Additionally, provisions were added to require facilities handling highly hazardous substances in quantities less than the program threshold quantities, to become subject to CAPP after having two accidental releases within a 12 month period. CAPP regulation as related to these statutory modifications became effective May 27, 1999.

In July, 1999, the Nevada Legislature further modified CAPP statutes, primarily in response to a large explosion in an explosive manufacturing facility near Mustang, NV. The legislation authorized CAPP to regulate explosives manufacturing, issue permits to construct and commence operation in any future CAPP facility and coordinate inspections in explosives manufacturing facilities. Regulation related to the 1999 legislative amendments became effective on October 25, 2001.

In May, 2003, the Nevada Legislature further modified CAPP statutes. The legislation gave NDEP the authority to investigate accidents in plants while recovering cost in certain circumstances and also significantly streamlined program requirements. The authority to streamline the CAPP process resulted in a revised regulation that holds all facilities to the same, most stringent accident prevention and emergency response requirements of previous revisions, while easing facility reporting requirements and enabling better utilization of resources to implement accident prevention. The regulatory amendments became effective on February 15, 2005.

In the 2007 legislative session, CAPP statutory amendments expanded program coverage to include facilities handling or storing mercury in excess of 100 tons. This amendment was reflected in regulation effective October 31, 2007.

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