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HAZARDOUS MATERIALS PLANNING AND RESPONSE (HAZMAT)
S.C. Emergency Management Division:
The SC Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) oversees two grants that provide for HAZMAT training and planning. The Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Grant is provided to states from the US Department of Transportation from fines it collects due to regulatory violations. The planning portion of this grant goes to the Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) for projects concerning emergency planning and compliance with the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), while the training portion provides funding to LEPC's to train first responders in the county. The second grant is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The CERCLA grant also provides for HAZMAT planning and first responder training. CERCLA is also referred to as the Superfund Act and its focus is on the clean-up and remediation of abandoned hazardous waste sites that present great risk to public health and the environment.
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control:
The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control's (DHEC) Department of Environmental Quality Control provides administrative and technical support to maintain the EPCRA Tier II records and toxic release inventories submitted to the SERC and also provides for the Community Right-to-Know release of information provisions for the State. An estimated 2,500 facilities submit Tier II reports of chemical inventories that are located on-site. Approximately 1,050 report the storage of extremely hazardous substances.
DHEC also collects data for the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which is a publicly available U.S. Environmental Protection Agency database that contains information about more than 650 toxic chemicals that are being used, manufactured, treated, transported, or released into the environment. TRI was established under EPCRA and expanded by the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990.
Reporting of HAZMAT Spills and Releases:
Spills and releases of petroleum products, hazardous substances, pesticides, chemicals or any substance that might affect public health and/or the environment should be reported. Types of releases include spills from underground storage tanks, above ground storage tanks, holding ponds, runoff from agricultural products, transportation related spills, and industrial accidents. In addition, fish kills should be reported. Industry and those responsible for the spills are required to immediately report the release to DHEC's Emergency Response Section (ERS) 24-hour reporting number 1-888-481-0125 (Columbia area 803-253-6488). The ERS is the central point for all reporting of releases of oil and hazardous substances within the state. The responsible party must immediately also report the release to the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802. First responders and citizens, although not required, are encouraged to report releases to DHEC so that response time may be reduced by DHEC Emergency Response staff both at the local and central offices in determining the best means to mitigate the release in order to protect human health and the environment.
Emergency Contact Information to Remember
- National Response Center: 1-800-424-8802
- DHEC Emergency Response Section 24-hour reporting number: 1-888-481-0125 (Columbia area 803-253-6488)
- SC Emergency Management Division
- HAZMAT Program Manager,1100 Fish Hatchery Road, West Columbia, SC 29172, Phone: 803-737-8500, SCEMD Website: www.scemd.org, You may download the LEPC Handbook and the EPCRA Handbook from the website.
- SERC EPCRA Reporting Point, Attn: Paul Lee (Bureau of Air Quality), DHEC 2600 Bull Street, Columbia, SC 29201, Phone: 803-898-3849, Email: EPCRA@dhec.sc.gov, DHEC EPCRA Website: http://www.scdhec.net/eqc/baq/html/eqepcra.html
The Emergency Planning and Community Right to-Know Act (EPCRA)
(Regulations implementing EPCRA are codified in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parts 350 to 372.)
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 establishes requirements for Federal, State and local governments, Indian Tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and "Community Right-to-Know" reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals. EPCRA is also sometimes referred to as SARA Title III (Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act). The Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public's knowledge and access to information on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. States and communities, working with facilities, can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.
A key portion of EPCRA requires the following of facilities that handle Extremely Hazardous Substances:
- Develop plans to respond to accidental releases.
- Develop plans to respond to accidental releases.
- Making chemical hazard and inventory data available to the public.
- Making toxic chemical release information available to the public.
The State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs)
The Governor of each state designates a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC). The SERC in turn designates emergency planning districts and appoints Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) for each district. In South Carolina each county is considered a planning district and the SERC allows neighboring counties to come together to form Regional LEPCs. The SERC supervises and coordinates the activities of the LEPCs, establishes procedures for receiving and processing public requests for information collected under EPCRA, and reviews local emergency response plans. Through a memorandum of agreement with the SERC the SC Emergency Management Division oversees the reyiew of county emergency response plans and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control collects and disseminates data collected under EPCRA, which are referred to as Tier II Reports of chemicals located at facilities within the state.