NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Chances are you don't know the chemical inventory from facilities where you live, but be reassured that there are those who do.
A voluntary organization known as a Local Emergency Planning Committee or LEPC is showing up in more and more counties.
Twice a year is all the Nacogdoches County Local Emergency Planning Committee meets. The rest of time the volunteers are busy creating and improving emergency response plans, but they often wonder …
"Does the public know we're prepared?" said Scott Christopher the LEPC chair.
Christopher understands the challenge of revealing all the preparation details. He's among the professional emergency responders on the committee who collectively perform hazard assessments. Local industries storing and using potentially explosive chemicals must provide LEPCs a chemical inventory.
"We have to be careful who we share that with for alternative motives," Christopher said.
However, the LEPCs must make information from these reports available to the public, upon specific request. Environmentalists and media members serve to provide a right-to-know balance on the committee.
Public comments are allowed at each meeting. On Tuesday, guests voiced concern about the rail transport of dangerous chemicals right through town. The comments are not ignored.
"Every individual in the county and city is an antenna that can monitor what's going on," Christopher said. "If they have concerns they're always welcomed."
Concerns about the transport of Canadian crude oil has influenced a statewide effort to learn more about the emerging threat. Committee member John Streeb, the county's geospatial technician and 911 coordinator found that out at the State Emergency Management Conference.
"People get worried when they don't understand what's going on, especially with some of these situations and, so the state's mainly trying to find out ways to get that information to the local public and first responders, so they know what's where and they can plan to respond accordingly," Streeb said.
The information will allow updates and improvements to emergency responses and a Local Emergency Planning Committees can once again let the public know they are prepared.
The Nacogdoches County Local Emergency Planning Committee will meet again in January.
Some members will be returning from training events held in both Tyler and Beaumont.
On a related news event, the City of Nacogdoches is cracking down on truckers who drive through parts of town restricted to truck traffic.
That includes the brick streets of downtown Nacogdoches where trucks, old bricks, and pedestrians don't make a good combination.
The city has installed additional "no trucks allowed" signs on the outskirts of prohibited areas.
The poles are wrapped in bright tape to alert truckers to stay off of Main Street unless they're making a delivery.
Downtown merchants are the watchdogs.
"The people downtown know that all they have to do is call 911, and the police are responding to that, so that helps us know that we can do something about it," said Teresa Darby, a downtown business owner. "The police have been responding. When we call, they respond."
The police department frequently encountered truck drivers who were sent by GPS or freight orders through this route and often were unaware of the ordinance. However, many were simply ignoring the signs.