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LEPC - 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 Kent 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: State and local governments, 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.

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:

Chemicals Use
Chlorine disinfectant
Ammonia fertilizer/ refrigeration
Formaldehyde preservative
Nitric Acid etching steel
Sulfuric Acid batteries
Gramoxone pesticide

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 Kent County?

The Kent County Local Emergency Planning Committee, with assistance from the Kent County Office of Emergency Management, is responsible for the planning. Under the law, planning districts are created throughout the state. The goal of the Kent County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) is to implement the federal law for all of Kent County, including the City of Grand Rapids.

The Kent County LEPC has developed comprehensive emergency plans for over 200 facilities in Kent County that use and /or store extremely hazardous substances.

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 Kent County 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 Kent County community and the LEPC.

In addition, the LEPC holds quarterly meetings that are open to the public at the Kent County Sheriff Dept.

What other information is available to the public?

Under the law, anyone can request information about hazardous materials stored or used by facilities within Kent County. The LEPC will make available a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for those facilities that use or store reportable volumes of hazardous substances under SARA Title IIII (Sections 311, 312 & 324). For further information contact the Kent County Office of Emergency Management at 616-632-6255.

Contact Us

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LEPC

701 Ball Avenue NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm

(616) 632-6255

Jack Stewart

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