Preparedness and Response
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The Winnebago County Local Emergency Planning Committee
Shortly after the enactment of SARA Title III the Winnebago County Local Emergency Planning Committee was formed when the emergency response community came together to fill the need for a countywide approach to hazardous materials incidents. The events of Bhopal, India (see below) gave warning to the State of Illinois and the County to prepare for the worst and exercise the preparedness plans on a countywide basis. This forward thinking group was made up of city and county response agencies. The agenda was simple; prepare a response plan, work together, help our neighboring communities when needed, know where the hazards lie, in essence, be prepared.
EPCRA was passed in response to concerns regarding the environmental and safety hazards posed by the storage and handling of toxic chemicals. These concerns were triggered by the disaster in Bhopal, India, in which more than 2,000 people suffered death or serious injury from the accidental release of methyl isocyanate. To reduce the likelihood of such a disaster in the United States, Congress imposed requirements on both states and regulated facilities.
EPCRA establishes requirements for Federal, State and local governments, Indian Tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and "Community Right-to-Know" reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals. The Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public's knowledge and access to information on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. States and communities, working with facilities, can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.
EPCRA has four major provisions:
Emergency planning (Section 301-303)
Emergency release notification (Section304)
Hazardous chemical storage reporting requirements (Sections 311-312
Toxic chemical release inventory (Section 313).
Regulations implementing EPCRA are codified in CFR.
For more Overview information, see Chemicals
in your Community (in PDF format)
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Emergency Planning (EPCRA Sections 301-303, 40 CFR Part 355)
The emergency planning section of the law is designed to help communities prepare for and respond to emergencies involving hazardous substances. Every community in the United States must be part of a comprehensive plan.
What are the SERCs and LEPCs?
The Governor of each state has designated a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC). Each SERC is responsible for implementing EPCRA provisions within their state.
The SERCs in turn have designated about 3,500 local emergency planning districts and appointed an Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) for each district. The SERC supervises and coordinates the activities of the LEPC, establishes procedures for receiving and processing public requests for information collected under EPCRA, and reviews local emergency response plans.
The LEPC membership must include, at a minimum, local officials including police, fire, civil defense, public health, transportation, and environmental professionals, as well as representatives of facilities subject to the emergency planning requirements, community groups, and the media. The LEPCs must develop an emergency response plan, review it at least annually, and provide information about chemicals in the community to citizens.
To find your LEPC
To find your SERC
What are the required elements of a community emergency response plan?
- Identify facilities and transportation routes of extremely hazardous substances.
- Describe emergency response procedures, on and off site.
- Designate a community coordinator and facility coordinator(s) to implement the plan.
- Outline emergency notification procedures.
- Describe how to determine the probable affected area and population by releases.
- Describe local emergency equipment and facilities and the persons responsible for them.
- Outline evacuation plans.
- Provide a training program for emergency responders (including schedules).
- Provide methods and schedules for exercising emergency response plans.
Credit: The above information is from US EPA and other public sources.