Emergency Planning, Management, and Response:
It is important to know what hazardous substances are stored in your community and what hazardous substances may travel through your community. Within the four-phase emergency management cycle (prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery), local planning for emergency events - preparedness - can greatly affect the chain of events following a disaster.
Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) work to understand chemical hazards in the community, develop emergency plans in case of an accidental release, and look for ways to prevent chemical accidents. LEPCs are made up of emergency management agencies, responders, industry and the public.
Hazardous materials pose unique evacuation challenges because the type of material determines the appropriate response; however, many response plans do not account for this difference. For example chlorine gas sinks lower than air and concentrates in valleys; other gases rise to higher elevations. Response plans and training exercises need to include decision paths that consider the effects of materials and the most appropriate responses to protect the population.
Evacuation issues that should be considered are how to determine whether to shelter in place or evacuate, what routes would protect or harm people given different hazardous materials and how they behave in a spill, and the role of transportation professionals in working with emergency responders to manage evacuation.
Emergency management and incident response plans and activities should be prepared by communities and facilities based on the hazards they may need to address. However, there are numerous templates and example of plans that can help planners with the task of writing plans.
What kind of emergencies, conflicts, or disasters may your community have to respond to?
- Natural events (tidal waves, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, avalanche, prolonged extreme heat or cold, drought, flood, hurricanes, etc.)
- Chemical incidents (oil spill, hazardous substance release)
- Radiological incidents
- Deliberate events (riot, enemy or terrorist attack, intentional release of chemicals, biological agents, and radiological materials)
- Disease outbreaks
The US Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), provides a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work seamlessly to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity, in order to reduce the loss of life property and harm to the environment through the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency coordinates and implements a wide range of activities to ensure that adequate and timely response measures are taken in communities affected by hazardous substances and oil releases where state and local first responder capabilities have been exceeded or where additional support is needed. EPA's emergency response program responds to chemical, oil, biological, and radiological releases and large-scale national emergencies, including homeland security incidents.
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 was created to help communities plan for emergencies involving hazardous substances. The Act establishes requirements for federal, state and local governments, Indian tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and &Community Right-to-Know& reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals.
State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) oversee the implementation of EPCRA requirements in each state.
The Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule: The Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule includes requirements for oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response to prevent oil discharges to navigable waters and adjoining shorelines. The rule requires specific facilities to prepare, amend, and implement SPCC Plans. The SPCC rule is part of the Oil Pollution Prevention regulation, which also includes the Facility Response Plan (FRP) rule.
Contaminants of Concern:Hazardous substances may be explosive, flammable, combustible, corrosive, reactive, poisonous, biological or radioactive, as well as solid, liquid or gaseous. Hazardous substances are covered in depth by numerous websites and databases that are described at Research Individual Chemicals.
Implementing Solutions:Research federal, state, and local governmental agencies response plans to become well-informed of current procedures before developing your own. This will ensure coordinated efforts with these agencies when necessary and for purposes describes in your plan. For example, the Alaska Regional Response Team provides a Unified Plan for agencies and organizations to participate in response to pollution incidents and Appendix II of the Health, Safety, and Training section includes training guidelines for local emergency planning committees. The State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) has a Disaster Response Plan, which includes procedures in the event of a natural or man-made disaster and has Alaska response plans by region online. Any of these existing plans can be referenced and/or incorporated into your own plan.
Please submit your experiences (successes/challenges) and tribal-specific documents to share on our website using the attached form.
Resources:EPA Region 10 Guidance for Preparing Tribal Emergency Response Plans [pdf]
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation State of Emergency Response Plan [pdf]
World Health Organization's Manual for the Public Health Management of Chemical Incidents [pdf]
Importance of Local Preparedness Example Train Wreck and Chlorine Spill in Graniteville, SC [pdf]
Chemicals In Your Community [pdf]
Websites:EPA's Emergency Responses and Cleanup Activities:
EPA's Emergency Management Programs:
Laws and Regulations developed to implement EPA's Emergency Management Program:
Hazardous Waste State Resource Locator Use the pulldown or the sensitive map to find hazardous waste and RCRA compliance resources on state websites. You will find general information, fact sheets, permit forms and guidance, contact information and other helpful resources and tools. See also a description of Federal rules.
EPA Environmental Response Team:
EPA ERT Fact Sheets, SOPs, Sampling Guidance, Health and Safety Documents, Technical Bulletins:
US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Preparedness & Response:
Alaska-Specific Websites:Alaska Regional Response Team Unified Plan:
Alaska Hazardous Materials Resources:
Alaska Local Response Agreement Map:
Prince William Sound Regional Citizensí Advisory Council:
Related Pages:Hazardous Substance Response
Hazardous Waste and Emergency Response Training Requirements
Oil Spill Prevention
Oil Spill Response
For more information, please contact:
Todd Barnell, Program Manager
Jennifer Williams, Alaska Program Coordinator, Sr.
Last updated: March 4, 2013