Action Plan: Strengthening Community Planning and Preparedness

Strengthening State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Tribal Emergency Response Commission (TERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and Tribal Emergency Planning Committee (TEPC)

Strengthening SERCs, TERCs, LEPCs, and TEPCs is critical to improving chemical facility safety and security. The interagency Working Group, in collaboration with State, local, tribal, and territorial governments and private sector partners, is working to develop, re-energize, and enhance programs to assist SERCs, TERCs, LEPCs, and TEPCs in engaging fully in local emergency prevention and planning and management of the chemical risks in their communities.

Short Term (within 1 year of this report) Plan:

  • Work with SERCs and TERCs to develop on-line training on the key requirements under Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) including supervising and coordinating the activities of LEPCs/TEPCs and collecting, managing, using, and making available chemical information.
  • Develop guidance and training for, and hold regional workshops with, LEPCs and TEPCs to reinforce their authorities, roles, and responsibilities and to identify barriers to meet their requirements for development and implementation of local emergency response plans, including ways to engage and solicit chemical facility involvement in the emergency planning process.
  • Offer Webinars and other communication tools to promote LEPCs and TEPCs use of the Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101(CPG 101), Version 2.0 Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans.
  • Coordinate with local jurisdictions to expand the public notification of incidents at local chemical facilities via the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
  • Add layers of data to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Infrastructure Protection Gateway for LEPCs/TEPCs and SERCs/TERCs to identify regulated and unregulated facilities on a map.
  • Distribute explosives licensee and permittee contact information to vetted members of the SERCs who have explosives storage in their jurisdiction.
  • Leverage industry associations to provide their members with information on EPCRA roles and responsibilities and share best practices for facility involvement with LEPCs and TEPCs.
  • Strengthen technical assistance and guidance to LEPCs and TERCs throughout the Nation to help local and tribal emergency planners understand and use chemical facility information to help better protect communities.
  • Share certain data elements of CFATS, RMP, PSM, and MTSA data with first responders, State agencies, TEPCs, and LEPCs.

Medium Term (prior to the end of FY 2016) Plan:

  • Develop a compendium of successful best practices for LEPCs and TEPCs on implementing chemical emergency prevention, preparedness, and response programs.
  • Update National Response Team (NRT) guidance for developing and reviewing Hazardous Materials Emergency Plans based on lessons learned and new technologies.
  • Launch an initiative to connect Federal- and State-level subject matter experts to LEPCs and TEPCs to provide technical assistance on access and use of the various chemical regulatory databases.

Improving First Responder and Emergency Management Preparedness and Response Training

Consistent and comprehensive training of first responders who execute plans during a chemical incident is another area the Working Group identified as needing improvement. Stakeholders stated there is a lack of a coordinated approach to emergency preparedness and response training. For planning to be effective, responders must be trained to execute the local contingency plan, and the plan must be exercised regularly to identify areas for improvement and/or additional training needs.

Short term (within 1 year of this report) Plan:

  • Compile on the Executive Order (EO) Website a list of specific chemical safety and security trainings for first responders and emergency planners.
  • Hold public meetings to gather stakeholder input as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers developing a new comprehensive emergency response and preparedness standard to integrate requirements of existing OSHA standards.
  • Work with Congress to ensure all emergency responders - whether private sector, public employees, or volunteers - receive equal coverage under workplace safety and health standards, taking into account economic feasibility.

Identifying and Coordinating Resources for SERCs, TERCs, LEPCs, and TEPCs to Sustain Planning and Response Efforts

SERCs, TERCs, LEPCs, and TEPCs need adequate resources to accomplish their mission of creating communities that are able to identify local hazards and appropriately respond to emergencies.

Short Term (within 1 year of this report) Plan:

  • Compile preparedness funding information sources on the Chemical EO Website.
  • Encourage SERCs and LEPCs to work with the State Administrative Agency to ensure the "Hazardous Chemical Release (accidental)" threat is appropriately captured and prioritized in the Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) process to improve capabilities and resource requirements necessary to address risks such as chemical hazards and incidents.

Medium Term (prior to the end of FY2016)

  • Provide a compendium of resources (e.g., grants, technical assistance, fee systems, mutual aid opportunities, private sector funding) and best/successful practices for funding and support and provide this to SERCs, TERCs, LEPCs, and TEPCs by the end of FY2015.

Expanding Tools to Assist SERCs, TERCs, LEPCs, and TEPCs in Collecting, Storing, and Using Chemical Facility Information

State and local officials have access to all of the information from EPCRA Tier II and RMP reports collected on chemical facilities. SERCs, LEPCs, TERCs, TEPCs, and first responders receive chemical facility information in EPCRA Tier II reports. Federal agencies share additional information with State, local, and tribal counterparts and the public, including RMP data. It is important to note that State and local authorities receive about 30 times more data from facilities reporting under EPCRA than EPA has under RMP. Additionally, there are other sources of tools and information that these entities have, or will be receiving access to, such as CAMEO, FRS and SRS.

Medium Term (prior to the end of FY2016) Plan:

  • Improve the Computer-Aided Management of Emergency Operations (CAMEO) suite to expand analytical capability and promote information sharing.
  • Develop and provide a complete Web-based version of CAMEO that States can host on their own servers.

Enhancing Awareness and Increasing Information Sharing with Communities around Chemical Facilities

Community residents and organizations have consistently noted that basic information regarding facilities is not provided in a clear and consistent manner. Each stakeholder has a key role to improve chemical facility safety and security. Stakeholder involvement is especially critical in communities with socioeconomic challenges or disproportionally high numbers of residents with special or chronic medical conditions. The first step for communities to mitigate or prepare is to identify the risks in their community.

Short Term (within 1 year of this report) Plan:

  • Develop and issue recommendations for how facilities, local emergency planners, and State officials could share information to improve emergency planning, preparedness, and prevention at all levels, including communities.
  • Work to share additional data, including specific elements of Risk Management Program (RMP) data and Process Safety Management (PSM) and RMP violation information, with the general public.

Resource Materials

Internet Resources

  • Computer-Aided Management of Emergency Operations (CAMEO). EPA system of software applications used to plan for and respond to chemical emergencies.
  • Envirofacts. EPA system that provides search access to multiple environmental databases that may include data on such things as toxic chemical releases, water discharge permit compliance, hazardous waste handling processes, Superfund status, and air emission estimates, among others.
  • Facility Registry Service (FRS). EPA system that provides data about facilities, sites, or places of environmental interest to support EPA's mission of protecting human health and the environment.
  • FEMA Website offering more than 150 courses to help build critical skills first responders need to function effectively in mass consequence events.
  • Funding Resources. This webpage is a compilation of resources which can help communities improve their SERCs, TERCs, LEPCs, and TEPCs emergency planning and preparedness efforts.
  • Provides a unified site for interaction between grant applicants and the U.S. Federal agencies that manage grant funds, including information on all available Federal grants specific to chemical safety and security that communities can use for community chemical safety and security planning.
  • Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN). Federal, State, local, tribal, territorial, international, and private sector homeland security partners use HSIN to manage homeland security operations, analyze data, send alerts and notices, and in general, share the information they need to do their jobs.
  • Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). FEMA system that provides public safety officials with an effective way to alert and warn the public about serious emergencies using the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, and other public alerting systems from a single interface.
  • Substance Registry System (SRS). EPA system that provides information about substances that are tracked or regulated by EPA or other sources. It is the authoritative resource for basic information about chemicals, biological organisms, and other substances of interest to EPA and its state and tribal partners.
  • Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). EPA system that tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environment.
  • Training Repository Information. Training of First Responders and Emergency Management stakeholders is critical to saving lives and property. This webpage is designed to assist First Responders, Emergency Management, and associated response personnel in identifying repositories of training sites that have content relevant to addressing chemical incidents.

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