MOUNT VERNON — Members of the Knox County Local Emergency Planning Committee learned Wednesday at their regular meeting that facilities in Knox County have an exceptional record of compliance regarding the accurate reporting of hazardous materials.
Knox County Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hess told committee members Knox County has had a 100 percent compliance rate for the past 18 years.
“Less than 10 counties in the state can say that,” he said.
LEPC is responsible for maintaining reports on the location of all hazardous materials within the county.
Hess told the committee he and Deputy Director Matt Sturgeon have about 20 inspections remaining for this year. During the inspections, the quantities and storage methods of all hazardous materials are checked within the facilities, and the information is checked against the report the facilities file each year with LEPC.
The annual inspections serve three purposes according to Hess and Sturgeon.
“The first purpose is quality control on the reports that have been given to us,” said Sturgeon.
“We verify what they have reported to us is actually onsite and is stored in the location they say it is,” explained Hess.
The second purpose of the inspections, according to Sturgeon, is to analyze any hazards that may be present at the facilities.
“The third is to develop and maintain relationships in the county with these facilities who utilize these chemicals,” Sturgeon said. “So far we have had an extremely positive response.”
“The most important part of these inspections is developing a good relationship with the business owners,” said Hess.
In the event of an emergency at any of the facilities, the report is easily accessible to EMA and first responding agencies to alert them to any hazardous materials stored at the site.
The reports are also used by fire departments to develop preplans for hazmat emergencies.
LEPC members also discussed the upcoming tabletop exercise which will involve EMA, first responders, health and medical personnel, transportation and communications officials and representatives of several other agencies in the county.
An exercise design committee has been developing a scenario for the exercise which will happen later this spring.
Sturgeon, who is leading the design committee, said the exercise will fulfill state requirements for this year’s part of the four-year exercise cycle.
The exercise will simulate a large-scale emergency involving some type of hazardous material. Evaluators will critique operations such as population protection, communications, and public information.