Harford County, Maryland
Harford County Maryland

Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)
Frequently Asked Questions Downloads Contacts

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Local Emergency Planning Committee?

The Local Emergency Planning Committee is a group of individuals from specific agencies and interested community members who assure that the county has the planning and resource capabilities for Chemical Emergencies.

Why was the LEPC formed?

Back in 1985 after a chemical incident in India that killed and injured thousands of people, there was concern on if that same kind of incident could happen here in the United States. In answer to rising attention President Ronald Reagan signed the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act into law on October 16, 1986. Title III of that Act is known and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Law (EPCRA).

One of the first actions of the Act was for each Governor to appoint a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC). This commission divided the state into Local Emergency Planning Districts (LEPD's) and appointed members of that community to the Local Emergency Planning Committee.

Who serves on the LEPC?

Members are selected from certain agencies and businesses who would have an interest or play an active role in response to a chemical emergency. They assist in the formation and annual review of an Emergency Plan that is required by the law. EPCRA specifies certain roles that must be included in the membership of the LEPC, they include:

  • Elected Officials
  • Police
  • Fire Departments
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Hospitals
  • Media
  • Transportation Representatives
  • Local Emergency Planners
  • Public/Community Members
  • Federal Facilities (Military, Parks and Prisons)
  • Local Industrial Facilities

Individuals from each of these groups are appointed to the LEPC through the State Emergency Response Commission. The appointments are reviewed yearly and changed as needed.

What is required in a plan?

Each Local Emergency Planning District must have a written plan that covers response to incidents involving Hazardous Materials. These plans cover who will respond and what roles they have in public safety, containment, clean-up and recovery from a incident.

Harford County maintains this plan and along with specialized planning for natural occurrences such as earthquakes, hurricanes and other severe weather. There are also special annexes for incidents occurring at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station and Aberdeen Proving Grounds with the Chemical Weapons Stockpile.

This plan is available for public review the Emergency Operations Center located at 2220 Ady Road, Forest Hill Maryland 21050, Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm

The Harford County Emergency Operations Plan, HAZMAT Annex is submitted yearly to the State Emergency Response Commission for review.

How do you know what to plan for?

Each facility that maintains over specified amounts of a hazardous substance in inventory that is classified as a hazardous substance by federal standards is required to report that to certain agencies. The reports are called Tier Two reports and they are due prior to March 1st of each year. These reports list the chemical name, amounts stored, storage information and the hazards associated with the specific substance.

This information is sent to the local fire department serving the facility, the Local Emergency Planning Committee and to the State Emergency Response Commission. The information on the report is then reviewed by the agencies to assure that the plan covers any threats that may arise from these hazards and that proper resources are maintained to respond to an emergency situation involving these substances.

Certain chemicals that can do excessive harm to public safety and the environment are listed as Extremely Hazardous Substances or EHS's. EHS's are given lower reporting amounts called Threshold Planning Quantities or TPQ's which require reporting for amounts as low as 10 pounds up to 500 pounds or more of these chemicals.

How can I find out what hazards are in my community?

All of the Tier Two Reports are maintained for public information and are available from the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). To obtain this information contact the LEPC at the Harford County Division of Emergency Operations 410-638-4900. The office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M.

You can also write the LEPC at the following address and request the documents to be mailed to you.

Harford County Local Emergency Planning Committee
2220 Ady Road
Forest Hill, MD 21050

Please be sure to include your return address and what facility or geographical area you are requesting reports for.

How do I obtain information on specific chemicals?

Through the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) a citizen can request a copy of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for specific chemicals on site at the facility. A MSDS will provide you with specific information on the chemical to include its hazards, safety precautions, medical treatment for exposure and characteristics.

You may contact the LEPC at 410-638-4900 or e-mail your request through a form provided in our web site.  The office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

How do you plan for emergencies involving the transportation of chemicals?

Millions of pounds of chemical products are transported through Harford County everyday on our highways, railways, pipelines and airlines.

The Local Emergency Planning Committee conducts routine studies of what is being transported through Harford County with the TRANSCAER System. This system is an organized method of gathering data from carriers and making sure that the proper resources are available for an emergency involving those substances. This includes placard counts of the tractor trailers on our highways, cargo reports from railroads and updates on the pipeline operations.

How can I get help with all of my compliance requirements?

If you operate a business in Harford County free assistance is available from the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) on all your compliance needs under SARA Title III. Members will come out to your facility and assist you in determining your reporting requirements. They will also help you fill out the forms correctly and mail them to the proper authorities. The entire process normally only takes a few hours. To obtain this assistance call the LEPC at 410-638-4900.

What if there is an accident, how do I report it?

Harford County Code requires that all releases of a Hazardous Material be reported at once to the Harford County Division of Emergency Operations. You may use 9-1-1 to make the report, even if a full response from the HAZMAT Team and Fire Department are not needed. The dispatchers at 9-1-1 are trained to take the information and make the proper notifications based on the type of material and the element into which it was released.

For a small spill that has been contained and presents no public or environmental hazard you may just have a visit from a HAZMAT representative. If the spill is large or a threat to the public and/or the environment a full response will be sent to assist you in clean up.

Facility operators are required by local, state and federal law to make other notifications to proper authorities. On the local level they should call 9-1-1 and make the report. Maryland law requires notification to the Maryland Department of the Environment and in certain cases Federal notification will have to be made through the National Response Center. Non-reporting can result in criminal charges and/or huge fines, some as high as $25,000 per day. If you are in doubt, report it.

The Right-to-Know, a guide for environmental compliance is available free from the Local Emergency Planning Committee. This publication covers all reporting requirements, phone numbers and report forms to assist you in making proper notification in the event of an accident. Contact the LEPC at 410-638-4900.

What should my facility plan include?

Each facility that maintains, produces or transports hazardous materials should have a written emergency plan that is known to all employees. They should know who has to be contacted and to do so even if they can not get a hold of management personnel. Failure to make notifications in a timely manner can result in large fines to the owner\operator of a facility/vehicle.

The Local Emergency Planning Committee will assist you in preparing this plan, free of charge. Call 410-638-4900 to make an appointment.

When is a written report required?

Under Harford County Code a written report can be required for any release of a hazardous material. Under SARA Title III certain releases require written reports to the Maryland Department of the Environment and to the Environmental Protection Agency. Failure to file these reports can result in fines up to $25,000 per day of non -compliance.

When does the LEPC meet?

The Harford County Local Emergency Planning Committee meets monthly with the exception of August. The meetings are the third Wednesday of each month at 3:00 PM. Normally the meetings are held at the Emergency Operations Center located at 2220 Ady Road, Forest Hill MD.

You may call 410-638-4900 for meeting information and directions to the college. The public is always welcome.

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