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Factors Influencing the Activity and Perceived Effectiveness of Virginia Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs)
Unformatted Document Text:  companies (Wolf 1996). The impetus for the new law requiring these reports involved a release of methyl isocynate from a Union Carbide facility in Bhopal, India killing more than 3,800 people in 1984. A year later, a leak of methylene chloride from another Union Carbide facility hospitalized 134 residents of Institute, West Virginia (Reisch 2004). At the time, so little was known of toxic chemical releases that Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) surveyed 86 chemical companies requesting a list of the “poison gases” emitted from their facilities as part of Congressional investigations of the incidents (Terry and Yandle 1997). The law that required the unprecedented disclosure of information in 1989 was part of the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA) to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). SARA, Title III (Public Law 99-499) has two major requirements: that the public have access to information about chemical releases and that local communities plan for these accidents. To plan for chemical releases, states are responsible for creating a state emergency response committee (SERC) to designate and oversee local emergency planning committees (LEPCs). LEPCs are required to develop emergency response plans to prepare for chemical accidents and review them annually. The statute also specifies that LEPC membership be diverse and include elected officials, first responders, the media, community groups, and facility owners and operators. Also known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA), this law provides citizens with access to the emergency response plans and to information about covered facilities. Facilities must submit material safety data sheets to the LEPC, SERC, and local fire departments. They also file annual chemical inventories 2

Authors: Templeton, Jill. and Kirk, Gary.
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companies (Wolf 1996). The impetus for the new law requiring these reports involved a
release of methyl isocynate from a Union Carbide facility in Bhopal, India killing more
than 3,800 people in 1984. A year later, a leak of methylene chloride from another Union
Carbide facility hospitalized 134 residents of Institute, West Virginia (Reisch 2004). At
the time, so little was known of toxic chemical releases that Representative Henry
Waxman (D-CA) surveyed 86 chemical companies requesting a list of the “poison gases”
emitted from their facilities as part of Congressional investigations of the incidents (Terry
and Yandle 1997).
The law that required the unprecedented disclosure of information in 1989 was
part of the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA) to the
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
SARA, Title III (Public Law 99-499) has two major requirements: that the public have
access to information about chemical releases and that local communities plan for these
accidents. To plan for chemical releases, states are responsible for creating a state
emergency response committee (SERC) to designate and oversee local emergency
planning committees (LEPCs). LEPCs are required to develop emergency response plans
to prepare for chemical accidents and review them annually. The statute also specifies
that LEPC membership be diverse and include elected officials, first responders, the
media, community groups, and facility owners and operators.
Also known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act
(EPCRA), this law provides citizens with access to the emergency response plans and to
information about covered facilities. Facilities must submit material safety data sheets to
the LEPC, SERC, and local fire departments. They also file annual chemical inventories
2


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