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EPA in Kansas

2019 LEPC Awardees

Overall Excellence for LEPC Serving Population Less than 20,000

Labette County, Kansas, LEPC received an award for overall excellence in serving a population of less than 20,000 people. It can be challenging to have an active and involved LEPC in a small county, but the Labette County LEPC has risen to the challenge. The LEPC has an active 40-member group including hospitals, county and city elected officials, first responders, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other stakeholders.

The Labette County LEPC has become a leader for newly-hired emergency managers from surrounding counties by sharing knowledge about environmental planning. In some cases, these emergency managers have modeled their programs after Labette’s program. LEPC members are also provided information and training on possible emergency scenarios including cyber threats, foreign animal diseases, and mass shelter-in-place operations. The Labette County LEPC brought in Frank Patterson, West, Texas, emergency manager, to brief the team on how the community responded to the fertilizer plant explosion that garnered national attention.

Region 26 Nebraska LEPC, serving Thomas, Blaine, Loup, and Garfield counties, was also selected to receive an award for overall excellence in serving a population of less than 20,000 people. The LEPC covers the Sandhills of Nebraska, an area with few hazardous chemical locations. The key threat in this cattle country is transportation of chemicals along the highways crisscrossing ranches in the area.

The LEPC focuses on current issues that impact hazardous materials (HAZMAT) management in the area. The LEPC instructs citizens on how they would be contacted in a HAZMAT situation and created pamphlets for “Sheltering in Place.” Because of its unique remote location, the LEPC also addresses all hazards that are not HAZMAT-related, including tallgrass fires in the open range. They also help protect community homes by providing safety information regarding propane and household chemicals with fire protection and home safety planning brochures. The LEPC’s Facebook page provides safety tips and a myriad of situations regarding public health.

Overall Excellence for LEPC Serving Population Between 20,000 and 80,000

Randolph County, Missouri, LEPC received an award for overall excellence in serving a population of 20,000 to 80,000 people. In the past three years, the Randolph County LEPC has undergone a full reorganization working toward a full-vested interest across industry, business and community agencies. With the full support of the Randolph County Commission guidance from the Missouri Emergency Response Commission, the LEPC now has 52 members representing 37 agencies, businesses and industries. This has enabled the group to have several sub-committees who worked to plan exercises and keep track of equipment needs for planning and response departments.

Adams County, Nebraska, LEPC received an award for overall excellence in serving a population of 20,000 to 80,000 people. The Adams County LEPC office is located in Hastings, Nebraska, and is comprised of 29 members from 15 different organizations. The Adams County LEPC strives to build lasting relationships and encourage discussions during exercises. The group believes it is important to reach out to the community to demonstrate the importance of local emergency planning by participating in community events.

The LEPC has participated in community outreach events, where they handed out brochures, pencils and magnets. This was a great way to get the word out while getting a chance to speak to the public about the importance of their LEPC and the organization’s role in their community. The Adams County LEPC’s goal is to keep the local communities safe and aware of the hazardous chemicals that are either stored or transported through Adams County.

Overall Excellence for LEPC Serving Population Greater than 80,000

Iowa’s Region 6 LEPC received an award for overall excellence in serving a population of more than 80,000 people, including Benton, Buchanan, Cedar, Clayton, Clinton, Delaware, Fayette, Jackson, and Jones counties. These nine counties share transportation corridors, railroads, waterways, similar industry and demographics. The group is made up of government officials such as emergency managers, sanitarians, sheriffs, as well as public health staff, industry, and state-level representatives. The LEPC takes pride in its planning and response capabilities. Region 6 has completed numerous projects to support its goal of governing and acting to protect the region’s citizens through educating, training, planning, exercising and evaluating plans and encouraging regional LEPC participation. The LEPC has developed a five-year plan that serves as a long-term planning tool for funding and developing projects. 

The LEPC reviewed and updated the Region 6 LEPC brochure that is distributed to the public. This brochure includes contact data for each emergency management agency (EMA), ways to joins the LEPC, a brief summary of what an LEPC is, and why they are important. Region 6 also distributes “spill cards” reminding the public to call in and report anytime they have an accident with hazardous materials. The region’s agriculture suppliers have included one of these cards in a monthly statement or in their agency’s correspondence. The LEPC also has developed radio specs and secured funding to purchase a multi-band radio for each member county. These radios will provide interoperability between the counties without regard to the type of radio system each may operate on. The radios also provide interoperability with the HAZMAT Teams that provide service for each of the member counties. Each year, the LEPC secures the funds to provide HAZMAT Operations Certification and Operations Refresher classes for our responding agencies. Each county may schedule the classes needed to insure OSHA compliance.

Tribal Emergency Planning and Response Program

Santee Sioux Nation was selected to receive an award for tribal organizations in chemical emergency planning and response. When the Santee Community School, a public school in Niobrara, Nebraska, discovered the need to properly dispose of laboratory chemicals from the high school’s chemistry lab, the school’s business manager contacted the Keep Nebraska Beautiful School Chemical Cleanout Program. Santee Community School does not have a staff chemistry teacher, so outside expertise was needed to properly undertake the cleanup. The Santee Sioux Nation Tribal Response Program’s manager worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) to assess and remove the chemicals from the school. The Federal Assistance Team lab packed the unneeded and dangerous chemicals. The chemicals were properly treated and disposed of at no cost to the small school. This chemical removal resulted from a successful joint effort between Santee Community School, Santee Sioux Nation, Santee Sioux Nation Office of Environmental Protection, Keep Nebraska Beautiful, NDEE and EPA. This great public-private partnership resulted in making Santee Community School safer for students and staff.

Exercise Award

Iowa’s Region 6 LEPC was selected to receive an Exercise Award for their outstanding HAZMAT exercise held March 12, 2019. The full-scale exercise scenario involved a catastrophic train bridge collapse in Independence, Iowa, resulting in a HAZMAT spill into the Wapsipinicon River. Exercise participants were advised that approximately 10 railcars fell into the water and one hazardous material placard was visible, indicating chlorine was in at least one of the cars and smoke appeared to be rising from at least one of the rail cars in the river.

Thirty LEPC members from 18 jurisdictions participated in the exercise testing communications capabilities among all LEPC member counties and responding agencies.

Participating organizations included emergency management from Buchanan, Cedar, Jones, Clinton, Clayton, Benton, Delaware, and Fayette counties; Buchanan County GIS, Buchanan County Public Health, Buchanan County Sheriff, City of Independence, Independence Mental Health Institute, Independence Fire, Independence Police, City of Winthrop, Lamont Fire, Iowa’s Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), Canadian National Railroad Police, and ham radio operators.

Exercise participants were advised that the engine and 14 cars were standing on the west side of the bridge; approximately 10 railcars fell into the water when the bridge collapsed. The reporting party advised that only one placard can be seen and is marked 1017 (chlorine). Smoke appeared to be rising from at least one of the rail cars in the river. The LEPC-purchased multi-band radios used by member counties demonstrated the means of ensuring communications between HAZMAT teams and local community emergency responders during a HAZMAT spill or other catastrophic event. The radios were used to procure equipment, supplies and request HAZMAT team assistance from several counties. The radio systems were tested at a distance in excess of 95 miles. The radios also allowed immediate contact between the HAZMAT teams and Incident Command.

The exercise also brought in industry representatives including Canada Northern Railroad; several chemical processing industry partners to work with emergency responders; public health agencies; emergency management agencies; and the local amateur radio clubs. An estimated 75 to 85 people participated in the exercise, on site and through the radio system. The responders were simultaneously challenged to response to an exercise with the effects of both chlorine and ethanol being spilled into the river. The creative solutions developed in the exercise environment showed that response education and communication paid off in the successful containment of a simulated HAZMAT spill.

Randolph County, Missouri, LEPC received an exercise award for their outstanding HAZMAT exercise. The Randolph County LEPC conducted a hazardous materials response in two phases in May 2018 that included the evacuation of a local nursing home and participation of 10 different county agencies and departments. Organizations that participated included the Randolph County LEPC and county health, emergency management, sheriff department, ambulance district, county school district, and rural fire department. Moberly agencies responding include the fire and police department and their dispatch center. Disaster Prep Solutions also assisted with the exercise.

The first phase table-top exercise scenario began with a local nursing home housekeeper mixing chemicals in a mop bucket that resulted in a quickly-rising yellow-green haze. The haze caused nearby residents and the housekeeper respiratory distress. Nearby staff rushed to assist and were also overcome by lightheadedness and shortness of breath and symptoms were spreading through the facility wing. The tabletop exercise trained the nursing home and the fire department on handling a hazardous material incident and conducting an evacuation. The nursing home staff learned to identify what would lead to an evacuation decision and were able to verbalize steps they needed to take in the process and what information needed to be conveyed to the emergency-responder dispatcher.

The full-scale exercise provided several unexpected results that provided for improved future planning. Fire department had difficulties entering the facility without nursing home staff assistance. The fire department was able to deal simultaneously with the HAZMAT issue and assist with evacuation. The staff were proactive in providing resident care and maintaining accountability.

The exercise tested inter-communication capability among all responding agencies, dispatch, and the facility staff and identified improvements. The nursing home staff was able to understand their limitations and identified a need for further education in working together as well as improving evacuation procedures. As a result of the exercise, the fire department established a better pre-plan for the facility and has improved its familiarity with the facility and the needs of nursing home patients and staff during a HAZMAT event.

Digital Communication Award

Iowa’s Region 6 LEPC was selected to receive the Digital Communications Award for their outstanding Facebook social media platform use to communicate.

Region 6 has made a concerted effort to provide community with hazardous materials and emergency planning education through a series of pre-planned, pre-scheduled postings centered around the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), community education and information, and household hazardous chemicals. Published every Tuesday and Thursday, the information enlightens the public on the chemicals present in their homes and in the immediate area of their home. The site uses local emergency management coordinators as administrators for the Region 6 LEPC Facebook page who provide a dedicated platform to educate and inform local citizens about the LEPC and its mission. The region also makes a concerted effort to push the public to where the information is posted, including having members encourage people to “like” the Region 6 LEPC page and share posted messages.

The page also promotes upcoming training sponsored by the group, such as HAZMAT Ops and HAZMAT refresher courses. Social media posts allow a broader base of individuals to receive information. Current events shared include Hazardous Materials Awareness Week and future Planning and Response Conferences.

The LEPC will also use the Facebook page as a public information resource in the event of a chemical emergency or hazardous materials spill. In 2017, following a hazardous materials spill, Cedar County Emergency Management Agency Director Tim Malott used the Region 6 LEPC page to provide community press releases and to stop the spread of rumors throughout the community.

Iowa’s Region 6 LEPC was selected to receive the inaugural Innovation Award

Innovation #1 - The Emergency Managers (EMs) in the rural areas are very supportive of each other on a continuous basis and especially during disaster situations. The LEPC decided to use this same support relationship to develop a novel approach to planning. The Region 6 LEPC Emergency Support Function 10 starts with a common basic plan with a unified Concept of Operations, Responsibilities, Notification Procedures, and common planning zones and it is followed by an annex for each county’s Tier II information, maps, affected special facilities and their contact information. This approach establishes a common operating framework and allows each county to have the information for the other eight counties for mutual aid efforts.

Innovation #2 - Region 6 has created a five-year LEPC project plan. The plan is updated annually to track the dates for project request for proposals, the actual project, and the completion of the reports. The task of tracking multiple projects over multiple grant years becomes manageable for all nine counties and their members. Scott Hansen, Benton County EM, serves as the LEPC grants manager/treasurer. His work is crucial in making sure that deadlines for projects and grants are met, and creates efficiency by providing a single point of contact for all training and planning projects.

Innovation #3 - The unique approach Region 6 has taken as a Regional LEPC in projects includes developing plans, a Commodity Flow study, Capability Assessment/Gap Analysis, business cards, a Facebook page, and an LEPC brochure. The cards provide the Iowa Department of Natural Resources 24-hour spill reporting phone number and the website for more information, and include Region 6 LEPC’s Facebook information. A QR code also allows the person to scan and open the website on a mobile device. The brochure explains LEPC functions, members and contact information, an application form to join the LEPC, and the sheltering process in case of a HAZMAT situation.

Innovation #4 - Region 6 has established a good working relationship with industry partners for collaboration and cooperation. Through this relationship, LEPC members receive industry tours and collaborate with industry partners on projects. They are a valuable part of the chemical safety and prevention programs in the regions and provide insight into emergency response.

Industry Award

Albaugh, LLC, manufacturing facility, St. Joseph, Missouri, received an Industry Award. Albaugh produces a variety of chemicals used in agricultural crop protection. Albaugh is a global company with facilities in the U.S. and five other countries. Albaugh has been an active member of the Buchanan County LEPC for several years. Albaugh hosted the LEPC meeting and provided a tour of the facility in January 2019, allowing the LEPC to understand more about their plant and its operations. One of their core values is Integrity and Responsibility, conducting operations to be good stewards of the environment and of the health and safety of the company’s employees, their neighbors, and their communities.

As members of the American Chemistry Council, Albaugh participates in Responsible Care, the chemical industry’s voluntary Environment, Health, Safety and Security (EHS&S) initiative. Albaugh demonstrated to LEPC members some of the ways they implement Responsible Care at their facility, including through the Responsible Care Management System, and how they hold themselves accountable through maintaining metrics on community outreach initiatives, hazardous air pollutants, OSHA Illness and Injury Incident rates, process safety incidents, product stewardship, certification of their RCMS, consideration of partnership status, fatalities for employees and contractors, greenhouse gas and energy efficiency data, SOx and NOx air emissions, and water consumption.

Through regular audits as part of the RCMS, Albaugh identified a need to reduce vehicle/pedestrian interactions and secure their perimeter to mitigate illegal access. By identifying this need and evaluating options, Albaugh was able to implement solutions to reduce risk of injury to employees and risk of chemical exposure to the public.

Albaugh is also part of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which is made up of nearly 30 companies that have committed more than $1 billion, with the goal of investing an additional $1.5 billion over the next five years to help end plastic waste in the environment.

Big River United Energy, LLC, was selected to receive an Industry Award. Big Energy’s ethanol production facility in Dyersville, Iowa, produces 110 million gallons of ethanol annually. The facility consumes 39 million bushels of corn from the region and provides an environmentally friendly, clean, renewable fuel, and 350,000 tons each year of valuable high-quality livestock feed for local, regional and national markets. Big River United Energy has been a member of Iowa’s Region 6 LECP since operations began in 2008.

Big River Resources has worked closely with the area fire departments, purchasing aqueous film-forming foam (AFF) and foam-applying nozzles for the Dyersville Fire Department. This foam helps provide quicker fire and vapor suppression for Class B hydrocarbon fuel fires, such as might be encountered at an ethanol production facility. Extra foam was provided for training the members on application of use.

Big River has hosted area firefighters and first responders for multiple plant visits to familiarize the emergency responders with the layout of the facility, with extra attention given to the high hazard areas. Responders have learned about the emergency fire pump and how it operates. Each firefighter have been given hands-on training on operating one of the water monitors on the fire hydrants around the storage tank area. The hydrants have foam-capable nozzles mounted to them. These joint activities show the close working relationship between plant workers and the local fire department.

Big River United Energy also supports community initiatives, both financially and with in-kind support, including helping fund the Dyersville Police Department’s safety and K-6 drug educational programs; and sponsoring Dyersville’s Downtown Friday Night event, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a Women’s Night Out, Chamber of Commerce golf outing, and the Dyersville Health Foundation. The facility also routinely has local high school and college classes come for plant tours.

Lyondellbasell was selected to receive an Industry Award for their efforts of striving to engage locally through community involvement, public engagement, and chemical emergency preparedness, prevention and response.

Lyondellbasell fields their own Emergency Response Team (ERT) consisting of fire, rescue, HAZMAT and EMS. Most of the ERT’s training is conducted on site on a 3-acre Fire, Rescue and HAZMAT training ground. Some staff also attend Fire Training school. The ERT serves as first response at Lyondellbasell.

Annually, Lyondellbasell invites local fire fighters to use their training grounds to train their personnel on chemical fires. Facility personnel and local first responders annually conduct mutual aid drills.

Lyondellbasell has worked closely with local fire, police, sheriff and emergency management to train local emergency responders for hazardous material spills, active shooter drills, and exercises designed to integrate the facility EMT with community responders responding to hazardous material exercises, identifying what went well and key opportunities.

A tactical emergency operations center and full-blown HAZMAT spill exercise was performed in April 2018. The exercise was intentionally chosen to evaluate Lyondellbasell’s in-house Emergency Response Team’s readiness to deploy and resolve a larger oil product spill, specifically implementing the Oil Protection Act while working with local responders. The company plans to continue the broader annual training for all types of HAZMAT (and oil) spills thought a variety of possible scenarios.

Lyondellbasell also maintains a presence in the community through public engagement, partnering with many local agencies, and community involvement. Their 2018 United Way Campaign raised just short of $200,000 for the community, with half of those funds coming directly from the employees and the other half being a company match. Employees also participate in the local mentoring program, JA in the classroom, Habitat for Humanity, and career fairs at local high schools.

River Valley Cooperative, an Industry Award winner, serves agricultural customers and commercial businesses in 18 Eastern Iowa and six Western Illinois communities. River Valley provides support in agronomy, energy, feed and grain operations.

Over the last seven years, River Valley has invested in training key employees to be certified in both 40-Hour HAZWOPER training and the 24-hour emergency chemical spill response training through Eastern Iowa Community College. The courses provide training for industrial HAZMAT spill response teams and industrial emergency response personnel, including annual refreshers. The training commitment increases the region’s abilities to address chemical hazards and to act when needed. The training aids in communication and interaction response with local, state and federal agencies. The program instills a confidence throughout the region that when they respond to HAZMAT situations, they will have the expertise and professional necessary to be successful.

Currently, River Valley Cooperative team consists of 14 emergency industrial chemical spill response personnel and two certified hazardous waste operations team members. By fall 2019, an additional five response personnel and six hazardous waste-trained members will join the team. Over the past seven years, spill teams from River Valley Cooperative have responded multiple times to diesel fuel spills, farm crop protection product spills, and anhydrous ammonia releases.

R&S Digital Services, Inc. (R&S), a full-service GIS mapping company headquartered in Great Bend, Kansas, was selected to receive an Industry Award. R&S has been in business since 1986, the same year that the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was enacted, introducing the LEPC requirement.

In 2005, R&S worked extensively with the city of Greensburg in Kiowa County, Kansas, providing GIS services in the wake of that historic tornado event so that response and recovery activities could proceed. In 2018 and 2016, R&S responded to tornado strikes in the city of Eureka in Greenwood County, Kansas. Activities by R&S included communicating with the county’s emergency manager, LEPC Chair, county sheriff, and city manager to support response efforts including tornado path overlays showing impacted facilities and homes. Aerial photography and video integrated with GIS was used by state and county responders and county authorities to calculate losses and plan post-disaster assistance. 

R&S has longstanding familiarity with county emergency management and LEPC responsibilities in Kansas and neighboring states. R&S has worked through public-private relationships to work toward developing GIS capability no matter the size of the county or community.