History of Local Emergency Planning Committees
Title III of the Superfund Amendment Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA), also known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was designed to combat only one type of disaster: hazardous materials. The law has several provisions, including requirements for reporting releases of chemicals and requirements for the protection of responders. The EPCRA section relating to emergency planning and community right-to-know has the greatest impact on county government.
EPCRA requires every facility, public or private, which routinely has on hand more than a "threshold quantity" of certain acutely hazardous chemicals (Two levels: The most hazardous designated as Extremely Hazardous Substances or EHS; and the less dangerous Hazardous Chemicals) to report the name, amount, and location of the chemical to all levels of government. This requirement may impact municipal swimming pools and waste treatment plants, in addition to most industrial facilities in the state. Facilities with reportable quantities of EHSs must also develop an on-site emergency response plan. If there are EHS reporting facilities in the county, the EOP should be coordinated with their on-site plans.
EPCRA directed the states to appoint "local emergency planning committees" to receive the information from facilities and to develop an off-site emergency plan that includes every facility that reported having quantities of extremely hazardous substances and community response capabilities. In Maine, each county was designated a local emergency planning committee (LEPC) district.
The activities of the LEPC are overseen by the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) which is chaired by the Director of MEMA. EPCRA creates a strong working relationship between business and industry and the State, its counties, and municipalities to protect our citizens from the dangers of hazardous materials.
The Governor created the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) in April of 1987. SERC's purpose is to coordinate the state's planning and preparedness activities for hazardous materials compliance with Title III of the Federal Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA). SERC established the formation of sixteen county-based Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) to carry out local government's SARA mandated responsibilities.
The Law requires the LEPCs to develop emergency response plans for local response to accidents as facilities which contain extremely hazardous substances. The committees are made up of elected officials, members of emergency response groups, industry representatives, and other concerned citizens who are responsible not only for planning but also for providing information on chemical hazards to the citizens of each county.