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Kewaunee County Wisconsin
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Right-To-Know

Citizen's Right-to-Know

Hazardous Materials in Your Community

Background

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know act (EPCRA) was passed in 1986.  It created a working partnership between federal, state and local governments; and industry to identify potential chemical hazards in the community, and to do emergency planning for chemical accidents.  EPCRA has increased awareness of hazardous materials (hazmat) in the community and helps provide information which contributes to emergency response planning.

What is a Hazardous Material?

Hazardous materials are common in communities both in the workplace and the home.  They are used by many industries, small businesses, government agencies and private citizens.  If any material, either alone or in combination with other substances, has the potential to threaten human health or the environment, it is considered to be a hazardous material.  Hazardous materials are most commonly stored at businesses or industrial sites in above-ground or below-ground containers of various types.  They are transported by truck, rail, air, water and pipeline.  Your community plans and prepares for accidental hazardous materials releases.

EPCRA in Wisconsin

Wisconsin's EPCRA program, which is coordinated by the State Emergency Response Board (SERB) is part of Wisconsin Emergency Management.  In Wisconsin, each county is designated as an emergency planning district and has a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC).  LEPC activities include emergency response planning, training, exercising, education and outreach, program administration, emergency response and media personnel, community groups and those subject to EPCRA requirements. 

Preparing for Hazmat Incidents

The key to safety is knowing what to do when an accidental release occurs.  The local emergency planning done as a part of EPCRA helps prepare the community in advance for handling hazmat incidents.  If there is an emergency, information will be available from the local authorities and the news media.  In a major incident, they will broadcast emergency instructions which should be followed carefully and thoroughly.  If you see an accident or incident that may involve hazardous materials, notify your local emergency authorities.  Let authorities and trained emergency responders handle the situation.  Don't approach an accident where hazardous materials are present.  You may endanger yourself and others.

Business and Industry's Role

Under EPCRA requirements, facilities that deal with hazardous materials have certain responsibilities to the community.  Those facilities that meet or exceed certain threshold amounts may be required to submit any or all of the following: Safety Data Sheets (SDS) or chemical sheets; Annual hazmat inventory reports; Facility information for response plan development.  Copies of the SDS and the annual reports are sent to the SERB, the LEPC, the facility's local fire department, local EMS, and Sheriff Department.  Response plan information is provided to the LEPC for plan development.

Your Right-to-Know

The Community Right-to-Know Act was designed to give the public access to their community's chemical storage information.  The more you know about hazardous materials in your community, the better prepared you and your community will be.  The law requires facilities to provide information on any hazardous materials present, in terms of both potential risk and their effects on public health, safety and the environment.  Citizens who wish to review the information available about the hazardous materials in their communities should contact their county's Local Emergency Planning Committee coordinator for more information.  Each LEPC has copies of facility reports, material safety data sheets and response plans for extremely hazardous substances, if the facility is required to submit information on them.  Each county LEPC also has a countywide emergency response plan on file.  This plan identifies the hazards in your county and contains procedures for emergency response to hazmat releases.  You may want to ask how the procedure may affect you, your family and place of business.  This will help you be more informed about hazardous materials in your community and help you and your neighbors be better prepared for an accidental release. 

Information provided by Wisconsin Emergency Management and the State Emergency Response Board.

For further information or help, please contact:
Kewaunee County Emergency Management
625 Third Street, Luxemburg, WI  54217
(920) 845-9701; or
EPCRA Program, Wisconsin Emergency Management
PO Box 7865, Madison, WI  53707-7865
(608) 242-3221 or (608) 242-3232