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Chemical Safety Is Purpose Of Local Emergency Planning Committee

By Alex Haglund

On Wednesday, August 19, the Washington/Clinton County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) met for their regular twice-yearly meeting at the Gridiron Grill in Breese.

LEPC is headed by Rick Greten, Washington County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator and Tim Schleper, Clinton County Emergency Management Director, in coordination with Stan Krushas, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) Region 8 Coordinator.

While “Local Emergency Planning” sounds fairly general, there is one emergency in particular that LEPC was formed to hgelp deal with: chemical.

“The LEPC was specifically designed from the Bhopal India disaster,” said Krushas, referrring to December 2-3, 1984, when a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal released methyl isocyanate gas and other materials into shanty towns near the plant, killing thousands. It is arguably the world’s worst industrial disaster.

“It is about chemical safety and emergencies, and incorporating the public sector, the private sector, the citizens and right to know, so that everyone is aware of chemical safety and how tge government applies this,” Krushas continued. “It’s specifically designed for awareness.”

If a committee devoted just to chemical safety seems too specialized for largely rural Washington and Clinton Counties, it’s just because people don’t realize all of the different chemicals that reside in these places, or perhaps more importantly, pass through them.

The state allowed Washington and Clinton Counties to combine their LEPCs, “because our counties are so similar,” said Greten, “especially in a farming nature.”

However, Greten said, “our biggest dangers would be the Interstate and the railroad (specifically, the one running north and south near U.S. Highway 51). You wouldn’t even believe the stuff that goes by!”

For More, Please Read The September 2, 2015 Edition Of The Nashville News.