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Hazardous Chemicals in Our Community
Thousands of chemicals are used by industry every day to produce goods we use. While many of these chemicals provide great benefits, their use also involves potential risks.
Hazardous chemicals are present throughout our community-they are used in industry, in farming, and even in schools and hospitals. You have a right to know what hazardous chemicals are present in your community and what the known risks are. How are these chemicals used and where are they stored? What if an accidental chemical release should occur in Pennington County? Would you know what to do? Are fire and police departments prepared for such an emergency?
What is the & Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act?
It is a 1986 law which requires communities to plan for emergencies should an accidental release of hazardous chemicals occur. It also provides government and the public with information concerning potential chemical hazards present in our community. This law, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, is also known as
SARA Title III
. SARA is short for the Superfund Amendments and Re-authorization Act. Title III is the section of law where the emergency planning and community right-to-know components are found.
What are the major provisions of this law?
The law requires:
, along with industry, to have an emergency response plan for chemical accidents to protect public health and the environment.
Industry to report the amount and types of Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) it stores and uses.
Emergency notification of chemical accidents and releases.
This information will be made available to the public by the
What is an Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS)?
It is any chemical that could cause serious health problems if it were accidentally released into the environment. More than 350 commonly used chemicals have been classified as Extremely Hazardous Substances. Here are a few examples:
Nitric Acid (etching steel)
Sulfuric Acid (batteries)
Some of these substances are found in my home. Are they subject to this law?
No. Only facilities that store or use chemicals in specified volumes are covered by this law.
So why should I be concerned?
Thousands of chemicals are used by industry every day to produce goods we use. While many of these chemicals provide great benefits, their use also involves potential risks. You have a right to know which of these hazardous substances are present in your community and what the known risks are.
Who is planning for chemical emergencies in my County?
Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC),
with assistance from the
West Virginia State Emergency Response Commission (SERC)
local County Office of Emergency Management
, is responsible for the planning. Under the law, planning districts are created throughout the state.
What is the role of the public in the planning process?
In order to develop comprehensive emergency plans, community input is essential. It is the goal of the
Local Emergency Planning Committee
to seek input by offering informational presentations to a variety of groups such as businesses, neighborhood and service organizations. These presentations will provide an opportunity for direct participation between the community and the
What are the required elements of a community emergency response plan?
Identification of facilities and transportation routes of extremely hazardous substances
Description of emergency response procedures, on and off site
Designation of a community coordinator and facility emergency coordinator(s) to implement the plan
Outline of emergency notification procedures
Description of how to determine the probable affected area and population by releases
Description of local emergency equipment and facilities and the persons responsible for them
Outline of evacuation plans
A training program for emergency responders (including schedules)
Methods and schedules for exercising emergency response plans
Where can I get more information?
For more information on local emergency planning, see
EPCRA sections 301-303 (42 USC 116) or 40 CFR part 355.
For tribal information, see
Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention on Tribal Lands
For more information on state and local EPCRA implementation, visit the
National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials (NASTTPO)
Energize Your Local Emergency Planning Committee
Contact: Thomas Kirk, Director
West Virginia Emergency Management Division
2403 Fairlawn Avenue
Dunbar, WV 25064