Local residents are encouraged to volunteer for the Local Emergency Planning Committee

329

Next LEPC meeting is slated following the Tucker County Commission meeting at 4 p.m. April 26 at the Tucker County Courthouse Courtroom


 

PARSONS – Members of the Local Emergency Planning Committee or LEPC are inviting local residents to attend their upcoming meeting and join the group. The next LEPC meeting is slated to begin following the next Tucker County Commission meeting which begins at 4 p.m. April 26 at the Tucker County Courthouse Courtroom. Commissioner Diane Hinkle said the LEPC is vital to the community especially with the arrival of Corridor H in the county.

“In addition to developing an emergency response plan related to chemicals in the community, the meetings provide an opportunity to plan and discuss other scenarios,” Hinkle said. “Everyone has something to offer when it comes to keeping our communities safe and strong. These meetings are a great way to get involved and stay informed. The committee is focused on expanding outreach and engagement and I’m optimistic the response will be positive.”

Local Emergency Planning Committees were formed following a 1986 law requiring committees to plan for emergencies should an accidental release of hazardous chemicals should occur. Many chemicals provide great benefit, however, their use also involve potential risks. Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, LEPCs must develop an emergency response plan, review the plan at least annually and provide information about chemicals in the community to residents. Members in the community should include elected state and local officials, police, firefighters, civil defense representatives, public health officials, environment and transportation officials, facility representatives, representative from community groups and media personnel. All residents willing to help on the LEPC are also invited to attend.

Linda Gray said LEPCs were established in each county to provide information about chemicals in the area to its residents.

“If you were looking at land to buy and you looked and could see a big oil tank above ground about ten miles away and say you were not comfortable with that, you can call the LEPC and if that is nothing you should be concerned about it will be on their list,” Gray said. “That is LEPC in a nutshell.”

Gray said over the years the LEPC has actually transcended into being an actual emergency planning committee.

“We want to know what emergencies are in our county,” Gray said. “Two years ago an update was created with someone sitting at the three major intersections in Tucker County. They recorded what trucks go by as well as the placards that were on the trucks to indicate not only what is in our county, but what passes through Tucker County that we need to be concerned with.”

Gray said the second part of that emergency preparedness comes from the winter storms and floods in the area.

“We have the potential for tornados and other weather emergencies as well,” she said. “The planning committee now is geared to have people primed who know what to do in case of an emergency and how to get ahold of these people.”

Gray said the committee membership dwindled over the years, and said membership needs to be reinvigorated to get it back to where it needs to be.

“Before, we had 20 to 25 people attending the meetings,” Gray said. “People from local churches, the town mayors and amateur radio operators used to attend these meetings. We would like to get the membership back up to this level.”

Gray said she encourages folks to attend this meeting and become active with the LEPC.