On October 17, 1986, in response to a growing concern for safety around chemical facilities, Congress enacted the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), also known as Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). The federal law requires the governor of each state to establish a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), and for the Commisison to establish Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs). It is the mission of the LEPCs and SERC to implement EPCRA in the State of Kansas and to mitigate the effects of a release or spill of hazardous materials.
The Kansas Commission on Emergency Planning and Response (CEPR), established by K.S.A. Chapter 48, Article 9, The Kansas Emergency Management Act, is responsible for implementing federal EPCRA provisions in Kansas and serves as the technical advisor and information clearinghouse for state and federal hazardous materials programs. The primary focus of the CEPR is to enhance state and local emergency response and preparedness capabilities through improved coordination and planning. This is achieved by (1) advising and assisting local agencies in the mitigation of hazards and emergency preparedness by aiding in the development of all emergency plans, training, and exercises; (2) reviewing the response to emergencies and recommending improvements for mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery for future disasters; and (3) carrying out all requirements of the Federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986.
The CEPR is comprised of 27 representatives from various state and local governmental organizations and industry. Membership of the CEPR includes agency heads from the Adjutant General's Department, State Fire Marshal's Office, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Environment, Highway Patrol, Department of Commerce, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Agriculture. In addition to the agency heads, the Governor appoints eighteen members from various state and local agencies: counties, cities, agriculture, transportation, energy, law enforcement, fire fighters, county emergency managers, emergency medical services, business and industry, public works, hospitals, public health, tribes of Kansas, individuals with disabilities, and one representative for the seven regional homeland securities councils.
The Commission makes decisions regarding the state preparations for different types of emergencies. By including more experts in the discussions, it will allow for a better planned response by the state. The various backgrounds of these individuals create an ideal commission to coordinate an emergency response related to all-hazard situations.