The Homestead LEPC (Local Emergency Planning Committee) is a gathering of representatives in our communities that have an interest in hazardous materials safety. As a group we are tasked with identifying potential risks that your community faces, from chemicals stored in and/or transported throughout your community. The LEPC seeks ways to help minimize the risk, prevent accidents and assist in the development of plans to deal with a chemical emergency. Education and community outreach is another core component of an LEPC. Through the LEPC, the public will be able to seek out information about chemicals in their communities and learn how to safely shelter in place.
The citizens of our communities need to know they are safe and that there are plans in place to assist with a chemical release. Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) it was mandated that LEPCs form as a means of allowing communities to assess their risks from hazardous chemicals and a way to exercise its right-to-know. Nebraska adopted EPCRA under the Nebraska Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (NEPCRA). The NEPCRA law in administered by the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) and is overseen by the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC).
The SERC consists of 19 members from State and local government, private and public sector including; fire, law, public health, school, industry, transportation and military. Members of the SERC are appointed by the Governor and are responsible for the oversight of the LEPCs. The SERC meets on a quarterly basis and approves members for the LEPC, discusses any changes to the NEPCRA and works directly with the Homestead LEPC to ensure our compliance with Federal and State Laws.
Under the NEPCRA each county has been identified as a local emergency planning district and will maintain Annex F – Hazmat in the Local Emergency Operations Plan (LEOP). Members include; fire department, law enforcement, health care, media, schools, industry, transportation, public health, local governments, and others. With the approval of the SERC, the counties of Fillmore, Gage, Saline, Thayer, and Jefferson combined their LEPC into a regional LEPC. This multi-county LEPC is able to meet the objectives set forth by each of the participating counties.
The Homestead LEPC is expected to meet at least once a year, but currently meets on a quarterly basis throughout the year, to review the LEOP, hazards materials annex and make necessary changes to the plan. An annual report will need to be completed and sent to the SERC by April 30th. The report will include the number of TIER II forms received, a notification that the plan has been reviews and any changes documented, changes in elected officers, upcoming meeting schedule, copies of public meeting notes, LEPC member names, addresses, phone numbers, area they represent, items of special interest/special projects.
One of the great things about your LEPC is that it’s virtually free! An LEPC is a meeting of the minds, a communication system, a formal gathering to bring interesting parties and the public together to make their communities safer. While there may be some incidental costs, they should be not significant. Some costs of operation are reimbursable under the Hazardous Materials Emergency Planning (HMEP) grants.
According to NEPCRA, the following requirements must be adhered to by the LEPC: