Have you ever considered how many hazardous materials (Hazmat) are in your community? It may shock you if you looked into it. The majority of communities across the U.S. have businesses that are storing, transporting, manufacturing, or utilizing Hazmat. If accidentally released into the community, they could cause significant harm and damage to life and property. In 1986, congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to create transparency regarding the hazardous and toxic chemicals present in communities across the country. In 2018, the EPCRA was amended with the addition of the “America’s Water Infrastructure Act” (AWIA) that requires state and tribal emergency response commissions to notify the applicable state agencies (including water agencies) of any Hazmat release that may affect drinking water sources.
With the AWIA now in place, the EPCRA provides an adequate baseline set of standards for communities to build emergency preparedness and resiliency against Hazmat risks. However, we’ve found that many communities still lack the funding, know-how, and/or human resources to develop, write, and implement an effective Emergency Response Plan that has “whole community” buy-in and support. Additionally, many Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) struggle to implement all the EPCRA requirements effectively.
As communities work to figure out how to become compliant with the new AWIA requirements, we want to help. This blog will cover “5 Best Practices” for designing, writing, and implementing an effective Emergency Response Plan with whole community engagement that exceeds the expectations outlined in the EPCRA. These 5 best practices come from years of experience conducting community-wide hazard risk assessments and helping LEPCs write or update their Emergency Response Plans.
ASG’s “5 Best Practices and Tips” for developing and implementing effective ERPs:
The recent fire at the Chemtool Hazmat facility in Rockton, Ill. on June 14 shows just how significant the impact of a Hazmat incident can be on a community. This incident evacuated over 1500 people in the surrounding areas and closed down the major interstate for eight hours. Cities across the country have similar Hazmat facilities, and risks like this are present in each community. LEPCs should make sure their communities have updated and effective Hazmat ERPs in place to build whole-community preparedness and resilience.
ASG has been at the forefront of building community-wide emergency preparedness capabilities for over 16 years, having conducted more than 80 all-hazards, risk-based emergency response plans for organizations and communities around the globe. In the past several years, ASG has supported various LEPCs through developing, writing, and implementing their ERP. We then follow up by developing the annual review and update to existing ERPs. These efforts have helped LEPCs update their ERPs to comply with the new AWIA requirements. Through the countless hours of perfecting our approach, you can say we’ve “mastered the process”.
For a practical next step, we recommend all stakeholders in LEPCs take our Whole Community Engagement for Hazmat Planning course. We can provide the course through an in-person, live (virtual webinar) or online (flexible delivery through our online learning management system). We can provide customized pricing options based on your LEPC’s or state’s needs.