By Walter Hojka
After a two-year hiatus, the Pendleton County Local Emergency Planning Committee (PCLEPC) resumed its quarterly meeting schedule. The committee met March 10 at the Pendleton Community Building in Franklin with 11 representatives of the community in attendance. The meeting addressed updating the local emergency hazard plan, providing hazardous materials training for first responders, maintaining a list of hazardous material storage in the county, and the election of officers.
The highlight of the meeting was a presentation given by Shawn Dunbrack from the West Virginia Emergency Management Division. In his presentation Dunbrack laid out the goals and requirements of the division. The goals include an emergency planning committee in every county, having those committees actively meet again, and that all committees are meeting federal requirements which allows them to receive federal funding.
All local emergency planning committees are required to have an emergency plan in place for hazardous materials, hold regular quarterly meetings, and maintain bylaws, elect officers, prepare agendas, and record meeting minutes. Additionally, the committees are required to invite the public to attend at least one meeting each year. The committees are also further encouraged to keep the public informed of the local emergency plan explaining how to respond when an emergency occurs.
Discussion after the presentation focused on hazardous material risks that exist within the county. There are currently 18 businesses on the state’s Tier 2 list, which is a federally mandated reporting system for companies storing hazardous materials. These materials include gasoline, diesel fuel, chlorine, fertilizer, and battery acid. Furthermore, there are risks associated with the transport of hazardous materials on the highways. Businesses storing large quantities of hazardous materials are required to report such storage. However, any business may voluntarily report hazardous material storage to the Tier 2 system in the interest of safety. Voluntary reporting is free of charge.
Training for first responders was also discussed. The committee has applied for training in response to inland oil spills, such as in the case of a vehicle wreck or storage breech. Such training would address public safety, containment, and protection of the environment which includes waterways.
The final piece of business involved the election of officers. Bruce Minor was elected as chairman; Brooke Hott, vice chairman, and Frank Wehrle, secretary/treasurer. The next meeting of the PCLEPC will be held May 12, noon, at the Pendleton Community Building.