The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986--enacted as Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA)--was passed in the wake of the Bhopal disaster in India, where more than 2,000 people died as a result of an accidental release of a hazardous chemical.
In order to prevent similar occurrences in the United States, EPCRA established a national framework to mobilize local government officials, businesses, and other citizens to plan for chemical accidents in their communities and required each state to create a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC).
SERCs were charged with establishing Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs), which provide a forum for first responders, state and local elected officials, emergency managers, industry representatives, hospital and public health officials, the news media, and the general community to work together and achieve local solutions.
LEPCs work to identify chemical hazards, develop and maintain emergency plans in case of an accidental release, and encourage continuous attention to chemical safety, risk reduction, and accident prevention in their communities.
Because of their broad-based membership, LEPCs are able to foster a valuable dialogue within the community to prevent and prepare for accidental (and terrorist-related) releases of hazardous chemicals.
LEPCs must develop an emergency response plan, review it at least annually, and provide information about chemicals in the community to citizens. Plans are developed by Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) with stakeholder participation.
There is an individual LEPC for each of the more than 3,000 designated local emergency planning districts in the United States.