Why Does EPCRA Matter?

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was established by federal statute in 1986 in response to one of the worst industrial accidents in history and is adopted by all 50 states. In December 1984, an incident at a Union Carbide facility in Bhopal, India resulted in the release of a toxic gas cloud that killed 3,000 instantly, with hundreds of thousands subject to cancer, disease, and pain for decades to come. A chemical release that occurred several months later at a similar facility in Institute, West Virginia, reinforced the need for a focus on chemical emergency preparedness.

EPCRA requires the formation of a network for emergency planning. Each State is required to establish a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC). SERCs then establish planning districts, and appoint and oversee Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs). LEPCs establish and maintain community emergency response plans, and are the front line for interacting with the public on chemical emergency preparedness.

The Act requires a series of reporting requirements for business facilities, including information on chemicals stored and/or released. The Act provides for public access to facility reports and LEPC plans to promote public participation in preparing for and managing chemical risks in the community. America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) included additions to EPCRA requiring the provision of information to community water systems to protect drinking water sources. While not part of EPCRA, the Accidental Release Prevention (ARP) program was developed to focus specifically on preventing industrial chemical accidents. Risk Management Plans (RMPs) developed by facilities under the ARP program provide valuable information which can be utilized by the LEPCs in the EPCRA planning process.

A key principle of EPCRA is that successful emergency preparedness requires ongoing coordination and information sharing between industry, emergency planners and responders, and the public. In most cases, limited funding options are available to accomplish this goal. With limited resources, methods to streamline processes and increase efficiency are key.

Hazconnect helps you address challenges for SERCs, LEPCs, Emergency Management Agencies, Hazmat Teams, and the public. The business/facility reporting process can be simplified with improved data quality and compliance. Information is available in real-time and can be updated and analyzed more effectively for planning. Information sharing is accomplished much more easily with controlled online access and automation. Individual state or local requirements can easily be incorporated within the systems. Using these approaches, limited resources can be allocated where needed most and the true spirit of EPCRA can more fully be realized.

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