Found everywhere, a community is at risk if chemicals are used unsafely or accidentally released in harmful amounts into the environment. The Local Emergency Planning Commission (LEPC) develops emergency response plans to deal if such an event should occur at a business or other facility within Clay County.
"We're trying to get more area businesses involved," Vice-Chairperson Rob Solomon said at the LEPC meeting at the Clay County Courthouse Tuesday evening.
According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, varying quantities of hazardous materials are manufactured, used, or stored at an estimated 4.5 million facilities in the United States.
The LEPC's primary function is to provide the basis for a community to develop and tailor a chemical emergency response program to suit its individual needs.
"We're here to help be better prepared in case of an emergency involving hazardous chemicals at a local facility," Solomon said.
The LEPC also acts as a liaison between local industry and businesses within the community that may store or manufacture one or more types of hazardous materials, including farm chemical/supplies, explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons and radioactive materials. These types of materials can be found in locations like farms, service stations, hospitals, major industrial plants and manufacturers and hazardous materials waste sites.
Solomon said representatives from emergency response services (like law enforcement, firefighters and medical first responders), hospital management, transportation departments, community groups and owners and operators of facilities storing chemicals need to attend the meetings to help make the plans beneficial to the community.
"We need to know what hazardous materials are located in our county and how the people responsible for their storage will react in an emergency situation," he said.
Participating groups in the 2007 LEPC meetings will soon receive a large hazardous spill responder kit bag (valued at $80). Officials believe using LEPC funds to help support and provide necessary equipment, as a participation incentive, would help maintain attendance at the meetings.
Solomon said participants in the 2008 series of LEPC meetings could receive a 36-gallon hazardous spill containment unit at the end of the quarterly meetings. Beginning at 6 p.m., the remaining meetings are scheduled to take place at the Clay County Justice Center on May 20th, Aug. 19th and Nov. 18th.
To learn more information about the LEPC, contact the Clay County Justice Center at 446-2535 and request to talk to Chairman Bryan Husband, Vice-Chairman Rob Solomon or Secretary Cindy Judd.