The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know act (EPCRA) is a 1986 federal law that mandates states create Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC).
Section 301 [42 U.S.C. 11001] states in part, "Not later than 30 days after designation of emergency planning districts or 10 months after the date of the enactment of this title, whichever is earlier, the State emergency response commission shall appoint members of a local emergency planning committee for each emergency planning district. Each committee shall include, at a minimum, representatives from each of the following groups or organizations: elected State and local officials; law enforcement, civil defense, firefighting, first aid, health, local environmental, hospital, and transportation personnel; broadcast and print media; community groups; and owners and operators of facilities subject to the requirements of this subtitle."
According to the Local Emergency Planning Committee Handbook published by the Texas Governor's Division of Emergency Management, "Under EPCRA, the SERC is required to designate Emergency Planning Districts (EPDs) within the state, and to appoint an LEPC for each district. In Texas, the SERC designated each county as an EPD. LEPC membership must meet the criteria established by EPCRA." Additionally, "LEPC members are nominated by the County Judge and approved by the SERC."
In Texas, every county judge is the Director of Emergency Management of his or her county.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) maintains a list of LEPC contacts. According to the TDSHS, "Facilities which file the Texas Tier Two Report with the Texas Department of State Health Services, Tier II Chemical Reporting Program are also required to submit this Report to the local fire department having jurisdiction over the reporting facility and to the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) for the county or area in which the reporting facility is located."
Some counties, such as Harris County, have multiple LEPCs and a couple of counties have consolidated their LEPCs into one. The TDSHS list of LEPC contacts is severely outdated despite an April 25, 2013 update date. Although the TDSHS lists 272 LEPCs, some LEPCs have merged, which is not reflected on the TSDHS list.
Of the actual estimated 265 LEPCs in Texas, email addresses were provided for 249 contacts. Email addresses were invalid for 57 of the contacts and the emails bounced. Email contacts for 29 of those 57 failures were found through additional research.
Dave Vance of Ellis County Right to Know has been in contact with 98 of 249 LEPC contacts. Of those 98, 44 were identified as active and 54 were identified as inactive due to various reasons. Not surprisingly, 110 LEPC contacts have not responded to Vance's email inquiry.
Disturbingly, many of the initial LEPC contacts Vance reached have stated they are not the LEPC contact or have not been the LEPC contact for many years.Read more...