Local Emergency Planning Committee
What Is The LEPC?
The Niagara County Local Emergency Planning Committee is made up of twenty member groups which represent the community, government, and Industry. This is an outreach effort pursuant to CFR 1910.120 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The Niagara County LEPC maintains a watchful eye over the activities of companies that store, use or transport hazardous chemicals in the community. Many individuals are required to run these companies and many of these people are your neighbors. As of this date, we have approximately 140 companies who are required to report their chemical inventories to the LEPC. These companies represent a large economic impact to the area. You can readily see that the quality of the community would not be the same without the these companies make to the area through their employment and technical assistance. The Risk Management Project is the first large scale environmental project undertaken in the United States since the passing of the Clean Air Amendment of 1990. The Niagara County LEPC is recognized as setting the standards and protocols for these type of presentations in the county. The members work to promote the health, safety, and economic well being of local community residents and plant employees.
Most Recent Meeting Minutes LEPC 02.12.20 Minutes.pdf
Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to strengthen security at the Nation’s high-risk chemi-cal facilities through the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program.
CFATS Has Made our Nation and Communities More Secure
The CFATS program identifies and regulates high-risk chemical facilities to en-sure they have security measures in place to reduce the risks associated with these chemicals. Many regulated facilities are part of the chemical sector – which employs nearly one million people and earns revenues between $600 billion and $700 billion per year. Other types of facilities with high-risk chemicals include universities, oil and natural gas operators, and hospitals. The majority of facilities with high-risk chemicals are privately owned, requiring DHS to work closely with the private sector and industry to assess risks, imple-ment protective programs, and measure effectiveness.
Security at High-Risk Facilities Must Meet Risk-Based Performance Standards
The CFATS regulatory program uses a dynamic multi-tiered risk assessment pro-cess to identify and regulate high-risk chemical facilities by requiring them to meet and maintain performance-based security standards appropriate to the fa-cilities and the risks they pose. DHS chemical security inspectors work in all 50 states to help ensure facilities have security measures in place to meet CFATS requirements.
DHS Conducts Extensive Outreach and Education with Chemical Facilities
The program helps educate facility owners and operators on the risks of the chemicals they possess and appropriate security measures to reduce those risks. CFATS has encouraged many facilities to voluntarily eliminate, reduce, or modi-fy their holdings of certain chemicals of interest in order to reduce the number of high-risk facilities.
Regulating the Highest-Risk Chemical Facilities
CFATS is the first DHS regulatory program focused specifically on security at high-risk chemical facilities. Federal law authorizes DHS to regulate security at chemical facilities that it deter-mines are high-risk. DHS determines a facility’s initial risk profile by requiring facilities in possession of specific quantities of specific chemicals of interest to complete a preliminary risk assessment, known as a Top-Screen.
Facilities initially determined by DHS to be high-risk must complete and submit a Security Vulnerability Assess-ment. If DHS makes a final determination that a facility is high-risk, the facility must submit a Site Security Plan for DHS approval or an Alternative Security Program that includes security measures to meet applicable risk-based performance standards established by DHS.
Improving the Nation’s Chemical Security Program Statistics as of April 2, 2015
More than 49,000 preliminary assessments were reviewed by DHS from facilities with chemicals of interest
3,378 facilities are currently covered by CFATS
More than 3,000 facilities voluntarily removed, reduced, or modified their holdings of chemicals of interest 1,844 visits to assist facilities with compliance
2,918 Security Plans authorized
2,163 Authorization Inspections conducted 1,685 Security Plans approved following an on-site inspection
Contact For more information, visit www.dhs.gov/chemicalsecurity or call 1-866-323-2957.
A New Risk Management Regulation
In June 1996. the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a new regulation requiring facilities that use, make, or store more than certain amounts of regulated chemicals to make
information available about their risk management activities to local emergency responders, federal and state officials, and the public. It’s called the Risk Management Program (RMP) rule and approximately 140 facilities in the Niagara County area will have to prepare documents that describe their risk management efforts by June, 1999.
The RMP rule is intended to prevent chemical releases, improve plant safety, and protect the public by collecting information to encourage community discussions in four areas:
- The potential effects of chemical releases
- A five-year history of the facility’s accidental chemical releases
- The facility’s program for preventing accidents
- The facility’s program for responding in an emergency
This new regulation is now a primary focus of the Niagara County LEPC because all of its members will be sharing information on risk management activities during the coming months. In preparation for EPA’s RMP rule, Niagara County LEPC in concert with an alliance of local industries in the City of Niagara Falls, initiated an project in the fall of 1997 to address RMP and other related issues. The effort is aimed at bringing local citizens, government, and industry representatives together to collect risk management information from our facilities and to decide how best to discuss this information with the public.
The project team of about 30 representatives is composed of government, industry, and community participants who serve on technical and communications committees. The technical committee is charged with assisting the companies in gathering hazard, prevention, and emergency response information. The communication committee is developing ways to effectively communicate this information to employees and local citizens.
How Does Industry Manage Risk?
Niagara County LEPC in concert with an alliance of local industries all have something in common. It's called Risk Management. It is one way companies ensure that their operations are safe for both employees and the community. Simply put, we manage risk. Risk management covers all aspects of a plant from design and construction through start up and operation, to maintenance and training. It is an ongoing process requiring continuous monitoring and testing of equipment, management systems and people to ensure the safety of employees and community members and to protect the environment. Risk Management includes the following layers of safety activities and/or layers of protection:
- Eliminate or reduce hazards
- Prevent occurrences of incidents
- Minimize or contain impact of incidents
- Prepare the public and employees for possible incidents
- Respond promptly and professionally to emergencies
- Serve as a resource to other emergency agencies.
Neighbors living near plants may be familiar with the following examples of safety activities:
- Specially designed vehicles and rail cars for transportation and storage of bulk chemicals
- Lighting at night to provide for employee safety during operation and maintenance
- Messages over loud speakers describing plant activities
- Bells or sirens signaling an incident or a drill.
- Emergency response agencies operating at a plant for the purpose of familiarization or for training exercises.
A number of federal, state and local agencies require risk management activities. In particular, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires companies to maintain safety programs that review processes, equipment, training, and plant procedures on a regular basis.
Listening To The Community
The communications committee has focused its efforts on understanding the concerns of Niagara County residents about local companies. Some of the issues raised in public meetings include:
- Trucks transporting products through residential streets
- Noise abatement
- Notification methods of the community during an incident
- Effects of weather (e.g., high winds, tornadoes, snow storms, etc.) on plant operations
- Potential incidents involving trucks, rail cars, or pipelines
- Nuisance odor complaints
Issues about risk management that the companies want to discuss include:
- Emergency response training and preparation
- Plant inspection, testing, and maintenance
- Plant design safety
- Plant operations safety
- Accident prevention
- Risk reduction
- Community dialogue
- Community Alert Network
What Does It Mean To You?
You will be hearing more about risk management in the coming months. You may be receiving
materials in the mail or through other means of communication. You could be attending meetings where plant personnel, members of the LEPC, and interested citizens will talk to you about the project and solicit your input.
This effort will help Niagara County residents better understand their industrial neighbors, and it will help the local companies better understand community concerns. By working together, accident prevention and emergency planning will also be improved.