Hazardous Materials & LEPCs

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    Sharing some data from our Hazardous Materials topic as fyi in case you want to learn more about your Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). Stay safe out there, j & B

    Chemical plants are one source of hazardous materials, but there are many others that exist in large industry, small businesses, and homes.

    Did you know…

    …about 500,000 products pose physical or health hazards and can be defined as “hazardous materials” and over 1,000 new synthetic chemicals are introduced each year?!

    …each year about 400 million metric tons of hazardous wastes are generated worldwide?!

    …according to FEMA, varying quantities of hazardous materials are manufactured, used, or stored at an estimated 4.5 million facilities in the U.S.?!

    Most hazardous materials are transported around the country by road, rail and through pipelines potentially causing spills on highways, near railroad tracks or underground. Many U.S. communities have a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) that keeps local planners, companies and members of the community informed of potential risks. All companies that have hazardous chemicals must report to the LEPC every year and the public is encouraged to get involved. We [the public] should all learn more about hazardous materials and how they can affect our lives so contact your emergency management office to learn more.

    Learn risks – Ask Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), Emergency Management Office, or Fire Department about community plans for responding to a hazardous materials accident at a plant or a transportation accident involving hazardous materials. Ask about the Emergency Planning and Community Right To Know Act (or EPCRA) and help your community become better informed.

    Make a plan – Use LEPC’s or agency’s information to determine if your family is at risk (especially people living close to freeways, railroads, or factories which produce or transport toxic waste) and make plans for sheltering-in-place, map out evacuation routes, determine where you would go short-term versus long-term, etc.

    Take a tour – LEPCs sometimes visit facilities that produce or transport toxic waste and include community groups, local officials and the media. Be prepared to supply proper identification for security measures if you go on a tour.

    Most LEPC meetings are open to the American public (some meet monthly while others meet quarterly). If you’d like to learn more, visit your county’s web site to find the local Emergency Management Agency’s office (or contact your local Fire Department) to find out if your county has an LEPC. Or check the Blue Government pages in your city or county phone book to locate your local Emergency Management, Emergency / Disaster Services, Civil Defense or Homeland Security Office.

    As fyi, the EPA’s Emergency Management page has LEPCs listed by state although many have not been updated in a few years so I’m not sure how accurate the data is. Click here

    To learn more about hazardous materials, check out the Programs under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Emergency Management here … or visit the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Hazardous Materials Safety here

    In Canada, visit Environment Canada here … or the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre of the Department of Transport here

    One final note … a site to keep handy for household chemicals is the National Library of Medicine’s Household Products Database that provides information on over 8,000 common household products and their potential health effects at http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/

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