All About LEPCs


Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) act as the primary point of contact for emergency planning and response efforts within their jurisdictions. In this article, we'll take a closer look at what LEPCs are, their crucial role in EPCRA and Tier II reporting, and how they utilize hazardous materials information to protect the communities they serve.

The Anatomy of an LEPC

At its core, an LEPC is a diverse group of individuals who come together to create a safer community. These committees are composed of representatives from various sectors, including:

  • Emergency responders (e.g., firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel)

  • Industry representatives (e.g., facility managers and safety coordinators)

  • Government officials (e.g., city council members and public health officials)

  • Community members (e.g., concerned citizens and environmental advocates)

This diverse composition allows LEPCs to approach emergency planning and response from multiple perspectives, ensuring that all aspects of community safety are considered.

The LEPC's Role in EPCRA and Tier II Reporting

One of the most critical responsibilities of an LEPC is overseeing Tier II reporting under EPCRA. Facilities that store hazardous chemicals above specific thresholds are required to submit annual Tier II reports, which contain detailed information on the types, quantities, and locations of these substances. LEPCs are one of the primary recipients of these reports, ensuring that they have the most current and accurate information on the hazardous materials present within their community.

But Tier II reports are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the information LEPCs receive under EPCRA.

Beyond Tier II: Section 302 and Section 311 Reporting

LEPCs also play a vital role in managing two other types of reports under EPCRA: Section 302 and Section 311 reports.

Section 302 Reporting

Facilities that have Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHSs) above the established Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ) must submit a one-time notification to their LEPC, the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), and their local fire department. This information helps emergency planners and responders stay informed about the presence of EHSs in their community, allowing them to prepare for potential incidents involving these highly hazardous materials.

Section 311 Reporting

Facilities with hazardous chemicals above specific thresholds must submit a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or a list of chemicals to their LEPC, SERC, and local fire department. While this report is also a one-time submission, updates are required whenever there are significant changes in the types or quantities of chemicals stored at the facility. Section 311 reporting ensures that emergency responders have access to critical information on the hazardous chemicals they may encounter during an incident, enabling them to respond effectively and safely.

Turning Information into Action: How LEPCs Protect Communities

Armed with the wealth of information gathered from Tier II, Section 302, and Section 311 reports, LEPCs spring into action to protect their communities. They meticulously analyze the types and quantities of hazardous materials present within their jurisdiction, identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities. With this knowledge, LEPCs can develop, maintain, and update their community's emergency response plan, ensuring that it is tailored to the specific hazards present.

But LEPCs don't stop there. They also use this information to train and equip emergency responders to handle incidents involving hazardous chemicals. By providing first responders with the tools and knowledge they need to effectively manage these situations, LEPCs help minimize the impact of chemical emergencies on the community.

In addition to working with emergency responders, LEPCs also prioritize public education and outreach. They understand that an informed community is a safer community, and they work tirelessly to ensure that residents are aware of the hazardous materials present in their area and know what to do in case of an emergency.