Section 301 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), also known as Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) requires each State to create designated emergency planning districts within the State and appoint members to a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) solely to address hazardous materials disasters. LEPCs are frequently organized in a first responder office or local government office of emergency management. Louisiana has 64 LEPCs, one in each of its 64 Parishes.
The law provides a basis for a community to develop and tailor a chemical emergency planning and response program and provides the public with a right-to-know attitude to identify, quantify, locate and determine the physical and chemical properties of hazardous substances in the community.
While industry representatives, owners and operators of Regulated Facilities have the primary responsibility for preparedness planning and emergency response to a hazardous materials incident, LEPC and first responder organizations are also responsible to the public when it comes to community hazardous materials incident preparedness.
The LEPC is required to appoint a chairperson and information coordinator and establish rules by which the committee will function. Whether the LEPC has “officers” beyond the chair varies, but the chair typically serves as the point of contact (POC) for LERC, the public and regulated facilities.
Membership to the LEPC is approved by the LERC.
Emergency planning and Community Right-to-know Act (EPCRA) - Allows State and local planning for chemical emergencies, provides for notification of emergency releases of chemicals, and addresses communities' right-to-know about toxic and hazardous chemicals.
Regulated Facilities - The physical premises used by an owner or operator in which hazardous materials are manufactured, used or stored.
Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) - The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorizations Act (SARA) amended the Comprehensive Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) experience in administering the complex Superfund program during its first six (6) years and made several important changes and additions to the program.
The Louisiana Emergency Response Commission (LERC)
, whose purpose is to coordinate the State’s planning and preparedness activities for hazardous materials compliance with Title III, oversees the activities of an LEPC.
LEPCs create public awareness of hazardous chemical risks and improve community preparedness. LEPCs should look for opportunities through schools, churches, youth groups, civic groups and other organizations active in the community to accomplish its mission.
Various sections of the EPCRA identify legal responsibilities that require an LEPC to:
- Review emergency management plans once a year, or more frequently as circumstances change in the community, or as any facility may require.
- Make available:
- Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)
- Chemical lists described in Section 311(a) (2) or Hazardous Chemical Inventories also called Tier II reports
- Inventory forms.
- Follow-up emergency notices to the general.
- Establish procedures for receiving and processing requests from the public for information.
- Receive from each subject facility the name of a facility representative who will participate in the emergency planning process.
- Be informed by the community emergency coordinator of hazardous chemical releases reported by owners or operators of Regulated Facilities.
- Be given follow up emergency information as soon as practical after a release that requires the owner/operator to submit a notice.
- Receive from each facility a chemical-specific MSDS, and upon request, make the MSDS available.
- Receive an emergency hazardous chemical inventory form from a facility owner or operator.
- Respond to Tier II information requests no later than 45 days after receipt of the request.
- May commence civil action against an owner or operator who fails to provide required information.