What is an LEPC?
A Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) serves as a focal point in the community for information about hazardous substances, emergency planning, health and environmental risks.
Each county is required to have an LEPC. In Pennsylvania, the LEPC receives its authority under Section 203 of the Hazardous Material Emergency Planning and Response Act.
The Local Emergency Planning Committee is appointed by the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and includes representatives from elected state and local officials; law enforcement, emergency management, firefighters, EMS, broadcast and print media, community groups and representatives of facilities subject to the emergency planning and community right to know requirements. The LEPC reviews and approves Hazardous Materials Off-Site Response Plans, disseminates right-to-know information to the public via written request, and receives emergency release and hazardous chemical inventory information submitted by local facilities.
The LEPC has the authority to request additional information from facilities for their own planning purposes or on behalf of others. An LEPC can take civil action against facilities if they fail to provide the information required under the Act. Local Emergency Planning Committees are responsible for preparing Hazardous Materials Off-Site Response Plans for all identified “planning facilities” in Lehigh County. A facility receives this designation if it has one or more extremely hazardous substances at or above a certain threshold quantity, as indicated under Section 302 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and PA Act 165 Hazardous Materials Emergency Planning and Response Act, Section 205.
How does the Lehigh County LEPC assist local fire departments?
The Lehigh County LEPC encourages dialogue with and among the local fire chiefs for information exchange regarding the type of industries located in their fire districts, and to contact the LEPC if they suspect a business or industry in their fire district ay need our assistance to meet the compliance requirements of EPCRA.
Upon request from a fire chief, the LEPC Chair will accompany the fire department on an inspection of a facility after a Hazmat incident has occurred.
The Lehigh County LEPC identifies planning facilities (those facilities identified that use, store, manufacture, or sell extremely hazardous substances) and develops appropriate emergency plans for these facilities. The plans are approved by the LEPC and distributed to the local fire departments, emergency management coordinators and the Lehigh County Special Operations Team. The Lehigh County Emergency Management Agency retains a copy of all plans and Tier II Chemical Inventory Forms within the county, and is the point of contact for the LEPC.
What is the compliance and planning philosophy of Lehigh County LEPC?
There are 219 facilities within Lehigh County that store hazardous materials at or above a Threshold Planning Quantity making them subject to reporting. There are many other facilities that store and use hazardous materials at quantities below the Threshold Planning Quantity for reporting. Of them there are presently ninety-eight identified planning facilities in Lehigh County which have a Hazardous Materials Off-Site Response Plan approved by the Lehigh County Local Emergency Planning Committee. These plans are reviewed with the facility coordinator at least once annually and on an as-needed basis.
The Lehigh County LEPC actively seeks to identify and bring in to compliance new facilities and to educate facility personnel at existing facilities, who may presently be subject to these requirements.
Lehigh County LEPC strives to create an environment of mutual respect in which, should facility coordinators have questions or need assistance with any planning or chemical compliance, they can contact us and we will assist them in any way we can.
The Lehigh County LEPC has been in existence since May 19, 1988, and meets on a quarterly basis.