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Agencies not a part of LEPC could be liable

Posted on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Mimi Diaz

Mimi Diaz

During last quarter’s Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) meeting, current chairperson and Audrain County Emergency Management Director Steve Shaw expressed his concerns that several agencies in the county were not participating with the LEPC.
There might be an increase in future participation after MERC representative Mimi Diaz joined those members who did gather last week at the Audrain County Courthouse for a quarterly meeting.
Diaz talked about the recent fertilizer plant explosion in Texas and discussed the legal mess agencies and LEPC officials were facing due to no organized LEPC and several agencies not participating with it.
She said local agencies can be held liable in case of an emergency, if it chooses to not participate in the LEPC.
“The heat is not on the LEPC with proper documentation, it is on the agencies not participating in the LEPC,” said Diaz, works with 48 LEPC’s in the state of Missouri representing 55 counties.
During last week’s meeting inside the Audrain County Courthouse, there were no agency representatives (fire, police, or city) from Vandalia, Farber, or Martinsburg. Laddonia’s Jerry Johnson attended the meeting, representing that city’s fire department.
Diaz said complacency is one of the biggest reasons county LEPC’s lack some agency participation.
“Nothing is happening but it could,” Diaz added.
Diaz said she’s currently in the process of setting up regional meetings.
Currently, there are concerns for the MERC after a recent positional change at the state level. There’s no timetable for the transition, which could cause a delay in LEPC’s statewide receiving funding.
During the meeting, the previous meeting’s minutes and quarterly financial report were approved.
Just two small hazardous spills were reported in the county for the past quarter.
The exercise subcommittee postponed any exercise with a turnover recently at Dawn Foods. That company is also going through a transition with possible plant closing overseas that could result in more jobs for the Mexico plant.
A multi-agency exercise is currently slated for some time in October.
There was no updated news for the fundraiser subcommittee.
It was reported that Audrain County had a 100% completion rate for Tier II reporting as Audrain Medical Center was the last facility to finish.
A reimbursement was received for Ameren UE/response as more than $323 was forwarded to the MPS/county. Another $180 was sent to Mexico Public Safety for the response.
Potential by-law changes discussed in the previous meeting were tabled.
In new business, the Little Dixie Fire District, who used a checklist to check out the LEPC trailer, recommended the LEPC purchase sand for the trailer.
In the past, a local firefighter had to purchase sand as there was none on the trailer and was later reimbursed.
LEPC members voted to purchase six tubular bags of sand for the trailer.
It was discussed that scholarships are available for an upcoming Hazmat symposium in Columbia. The MERC offers scholarships for registration and hotel costs while the LEPC offers scholarships to cover mileage and food for the conference.
The symposium will feature a representative of Texas Task Force 1, who responded to the gas explosion at the fertilizer plant.
An update on a multi-gas indicator was tabled with the need still to get with Little Dixie on the issue.
A generator load test was put on hold after learning an EMP contract doesn’t cover the LEPC generators.
A local MoDOT official presented a sheet to those at the meeting about Amendment 7.
The next LEPC meeting will be held from noon-1:30 p.m. on October 16.