Local officials can assist hazmat response through emergency planning committees

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Local elected officials, town managers and administrators are critical to the success of federally mandated local emergency planning committees, according to the state Emergency Response Commission.
A chemical plant explosion in North Andover, a gas tanker spill in Wakefield, and a gas tanker crash in Agawam are a few of the major hazardous material incidents to occur in Massachusetts in the past two years, all of which highlight the need for municipal officials to be involved in their community’s EPC.
Mandated by the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, local governments through their EPC must develop an emergency response plan, review the plan at least annually, and provide information about chemicals in the community to residents.
Municipal officials are both required members of an EPC, and play a key role in their conduct and effectiveness, greatly benefitting its planning processes. By bringing together resources and providing coordination with municipal departments, mayors, town managers and administrators, councillors and selectmen can help their communities be proactive in hazmat emergency incidents.
For more information about local emergency planning efforts and any Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act requirements for your community, contact your community’s emergency management director or fire chief. For a list of EPCs and assistance with developing an EPC, contact your respective Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency region or visit www.mass.gov/mema.
For more information about the EPCRA, visit www.epa.gov/epcra.