Preparedness and Response
Radisson Hotel and
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
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
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
To find your LEPC
To find your SERC
What are the required elements of a community emergency response
- Identify facilities and transportation routes
of extremely hazardous substances.
- Describe emergency response procedures, on and
- 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