Other EPA Chemical Emergency Preparedness Programs



The CEPPO Organization

Historical Background

Public awareness of the potential danger from accidental releases of hazardous substances has increased over the years as serious chemical accidents have occurred around the world. Public concern intensified following the 1984 release of methyl isocyanate in Bhopal, India, which killed more than 2,000 people.

A subsequent chemical release in Institute, West Virginia, sent more than 100 people to the hospital and made Americans aware that such incidents can and do happen in the United States.

In response to this public concern and the hazards that exist, EPA created its Chemical Emergency Preparedness program (CEPP) in 1985: a voluntary program to encourage state and local authorities to identify hazards in their areas and to plan for potential chemical emergencies. This local planning complemented emergency response planning carried out at the national and regional levels by the National Response Team and Regional Response Teams.

The following year, Congress enacted many of the elements of CEPP in the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986, also known as Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA). SARA Title III requires states to establish State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) and Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) to develop emergency response plans for each community. SARA Title III also requires facilities to make information available to the public on the hazardous chemicals they have on site. Title III's reporting requirements foster a valuable dialogue between industry and local communities on hazards to help citizens become more informed about the presence of hazardous chemicals that might affect public health and the environment.

EPA recognized that accident prevention, preparedness, and response are not discrete processes, but form a safety continuum. Therefore, in 1986, EPA established its Chemical Accident Prevention Program, integrating it with the Chemical Emergency Preparedness Program.

Under SARA section 305(b), EPA was required to conduct a review of emergency systems to monitor, detect, and prevent chemical accidents at facilities across the country. The final report to Congress, Review of Emergency Systems (EPA, 1988), concluded that the prevention of accidental releases requires an integrated approach that considers technologies, operations, and management practices, and it emphasized the importance of management commitment to safety.

The first prevention initiative was to begin collecting information on chemical accidents. Then EPA began working with other stakeholder groups to increase knowledge of prevention practices and encourage industry to improve safety at facilities.

Under the Chemical Accident Prevention Program, EPA developed the Accidental Release Information Program (ARIP) to collect data on the causes of accidents and the steps facilities take to prevent recurrences. EPA also developed its Chemical Safety Audit Program to gather and disseminate information on practices at facilities to mitigate and prevent chemical accidents. Another significant component of EPA's Chemical Accident Prevention Program involves outreach to small and medium-sized enterprises, which are generally less aware of risks that larger facilities.

All these efforts are based on the premise that while industry bears the primary responsibility for preventing and mitigating chemical accidents, many other groups also have a role to play. Workers, trade associations, environmental groups, professional organizations, public interest groups, the insurance and financial community, researchers and academia, the medical profession, and governments at all levels can help facilities that use hazardous chemicals identify their hazards and find safer ways to operate. A number of stakeholder groups have now developed programs and guidance to assist facilities in the management of chemical hazards. Many of these safety measures can make businesses more efficient and productive.

For more information about CEPPO and its programs, explore the CEPPO WWW site, contact the EPCRA hotline, and/or contact your regional EPA office. For state or local level chemical emergency information preparedness, prevention and response information, try contacting your state emergency response commission (SERC) or your local emergency planning committee (LEPC). Another federal source of information on emergency response is your regional FEMA office. For more information on toxic releases, visit the EPA Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances which provides access to the Toxic Release Inventory or contact your state-designated TRI contact.

CEPPO Mission

EPA's CEPPO provides leadership, advocacy, and assistance to: To protect human health and the environment CEPPO develops, implements, and coordinates regulatory and non-regulatory programs.

The Office carries out this work in partnership with regions, domestic and international organizations in the public and private sectors, and the general public. The pride, commitment, technical competence, and continual development of the staff are the cornerstone of CEPPO's work.

Some Not So Trivial Trivia

April 16-18, 1997 was the 50th anniversary of the worst chemical accident in American History. In 1947, the French freighter Grandcamp was docked at Texas City, Texas when the 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate aboard the ship caught fire and subsequently exploded.

At least 516 people were killed, and over 3,000 were injured. Most of the city, including 1,000 buildings, was destroyed.