SPRINGFIELD – April is Hazardous Materials Safety Month, and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) wants you to learn about the potential hazards in your community. “Being proactive and safety conscious is key,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau
. “If released, hazardous material may pose a threat to public health and safety.”
IEMA offers citizens the ability to track chemical spills and incidents
and maintains an inventory-type database to monitor businesses and organizations that have chemicals onsite. Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to help prevent problems and quickly reduce danger in the case of an emergency.
IEMA coordinates shared efforts with the Illinois Fire Service Institute (ISFI) to provide guidance and hazardous materials training to businesses and organizations, with updates every four years or less. Federal funds are used to provide hazardous materials training
to all first responders in the State of Illinois, including public employees who may come across a hazardous material during their workday.
“The State of Illinois has proactive and well-trained regional and local responders, which reduces risk,” explained IEMA Hazardous Materials Unit Supervisor David Martin. “Illinois has just under 8,600 active Tier II chemical facilities. Chemicals are necessary for thousands of businesses to operative effectively in Illinois, and those chemicals are safe when utilized under proper conditions and utilized by responsible parties.”
Under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA), the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) has designated IEMA to implement the requirements. IEMA works closely with Local Emergency Planning Committees, first responders, and emergency managers to ensure local communities have knowledge and access to information on hazardous materials located within their communities and are prepared in the event of a chemical release.