What is the Fairfax Joint LEPC?
The Fairfax Joint LEPC has been organized since late 1987 and is actively discharging its responsibilities under Title III. For any LEPC to function effectively, it must represent all-important elements of the community and reflect the needs and interests of those elements.
The Fairfax Joint LEPC includes local government officials; police, fire and rescue officials; environmental and governmental planners; public health professionals; hospital officials; public utility and transportation officials; and representatives of business organizations, professional societies, civic organizations and the media.
Established to meet the requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), also known as the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA Title III), each county in Virginia is designated as an Emergency Planning District with a LEPC.
Title III has two important provisions:
1. It provides for emergency response planning to cope with the accidental release of toxic chemicals into the air, land and water.
2. The community right-to-know provisions of Title III will help to increase the public’s knowledge and access to information on the presence of hazardous chemicals in their communities and releases of these chemicals into the environment.
The U.S. Congress passed EPCRA in 1986 after a chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, which caused widespread death and illness. The Bhopal accident raised concerns about a lack of planning and preparation for a similar accident in America. EPCRA is designed to inform communities about chemicals and chemical hazards present and transported in a community, involve the community in developing emergency planning and response measures, help identify facilities that might be subject to the law, and assure implementation of the EPCRA law.
What is the law?
Under Title III, companies located throughout the United States are telling their communities about chemicals that they make or use. Using this information, along with the knowledge of chemicals that are being transported, localities (citizens of the community, businesses and local governments) are developing emergency response plans. For more information, visit the EPA website at: http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/index.htm
Who has to report?
By law, facilities that make, use or store hazardous materials are required to keep track of these materials. Using their records, they will file the reports required by Title III. If the quantities reach threshold limits, they must be reported under Title III.
Many businesses ranging from large chemical plants to small businesses, such as dry-cleaning shops or automobile body repair shops handle hazardous materials in amounts that subject them to the reporting requirements of Title III. The EPA estimates that, nationwide, as many as 1 ½ million businesses are covered by Title III. Only 2,000-3,000 of these are chemical plants.
Who collects information for this area?
“This area” includes Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax, the Town of Vienna, and the Town of Herndon.
Under Title III, this area is required to organize a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) that is responsible for:
1. Collecting information about hazardous materials.
2. Developing and updating, on an annual basis, the Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Plan (HMERP).
3. Providing information to the public about the use, storage, and manufacture of hazardous materials.
What if there is a chemical emergency?
The primary responsibility of the FJLEPC is to develop the emergency response plan required by federal law. This plan must include:
• Identification of facilities and the transportation routes for extremely hazardous substances.
• Emergency response procedures, both on-site and off-site.
• Designation of a community coordinator and facility coordinator(s) who implement the plan.
• Emergency notification procedures.
• Methods for determining the occurrence of an accidental release and the probable affected area and population.
• Description of Community and industry emergency equipment and facilities, and the identity of persons responsible for them.
• Evacuation plans.
• Description and schedules of training programs for emergency response personnel.
• Methods and schedules for exercising emergency response plans.
How can I get information?
The FJLEPC is responsible for establishing and implementing the procedures for handling the public’s requests for information about the use, storage and manufacture of hazardous materials. In addition to fulfilling this area’s right-to-know needs, the FJLEPC will provide information about local-area emergency response capabilities to cope with the accidental release of these materials. Also, residents may request information about this area’s emergency response capabilities from the FJLEPC staff at 703-246-4386 or through Virginia Relay 711
Upon request, the following information will be furnished:
• Identity of facilities that use, make, or store specified amounts of hazardous materials.
• Storage locations.
• Amount of reportable materials being stored at a facility.
• Nature of the hazards involved.
• Proper handling methods for a given hazardous material.
• Amounts released into the air, land and water each year.
Meeting the requirements mandated by Title III is a responsibility shared by community groups, business interests and local jurisdictions. In this area, they work together effectively to address concerns, provide information and plan for a safe future.