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Annual funding will boost the Local Emergency Planning Committee's budget by almost $20,000 and local officials want to utilize those funds to possibly purchase training equipment.

The LEPC is part of a federal program which requires companies or organizations within each county to report what hazardous materials are on hand, said McDonald County emergency management director Gregg Sweeten.

Those entities pay an annual fee and file a report. Once the information is filed and state officials collect the fee, the funds are then processed and funneled back to the participating county.

The McDonald County LEPC is currently waiting on the funds, which are being processed. Officials with the Missouri Emergency Response Commission told Sweeten the funds will be coming in soon.

When the funds -- estimated to be between $17,000 and $20,000 -- arrive, officials will decide how to invest in the community.

The program is mandated by state and federal guidelines. The annual allotment can be designated for training equipment, distribution of the HAZMAT plan, food at the planning meetings or HAZMAT training conferences.

Funds are secured in a separate account, Sweeten said, and kept segregated from other county monies.

The LEPC has participated in the program since at least 1997 or 1998, Sweeten said. As part of the program's standards, LEPC officials are required to provide information to anyone who has questions about facilities that have hazardous materials.

Thanks to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), information is shared about the materials while keeping in mind certain aspects related to Homeland Security issues, Sweeten said.

"It's a fine line," he said, explaining how officials are challenged to be forthcoming while maintaining certain security measures.

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 was created to help communities plan for chemical emergencies. As part of that act, McDonald County officials are required to send notification of a chemical release or spill and have an emergency response plan in place.

State officials are currently reviewing McDonald County LEPC's plan that was recently submitted.

The LEPC is a community effort, including representatives from Tysons, Simmons, fire departments and law enforcement, health department officials, emergency management and school personnel.

Meetings are generally held during the first and fourth quarters of each year. The next meeting will take place in October, and officials hope to hold the meeting during the day to attract more participants.

General News on 05/10/2018

Print Headline: Local Emergency Planning Committee Plans For Future

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