March 18, 2010
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MRPC, Emergency Planning Committee Oppose
SB 680 would put greater responsibility for hazardous materials spills
ST. JAMES—Both the Meramec Regional Planning Commission and the Meramec Regional Emergency Planning Committee have gone on record in opposition to Senate Bill 680, sponsored by Sen. Jason Crowell, which would change laws governing hazardous material spills.
The MREPC, chaired by Kraig Bone, took action at its meeting on Feb. 24, and the MRPC board followed suit during its meeting on March 11.
The bill, if passed, would raise the reportable quantity for petroleum-based hazardous materials spills from 50 gallons to 3,000 gallons and relieve the responsible party from paying for 75 percent of the cleanup costs. The bill does not explain who, after exempting the responsible party from 75 percent of the cleanup costs, will pay for the clean up, but it is usually the local government or a fire department that is first on the scene when an accident occurs.
“This bill will effectively pass the cost of hazardous materials spills from the responsible party to the local government and fire department that responds to the incident,” said Bone in letters to legislators serving the Meramec Region. “Not only is this done by creating a 25-percent limit on liability, but research shows that only one-half of one percent of all petroleum-based spills in the state are greater than 3,000 gallons in size. Local entities would be forced to shoulder the burden of responding to and remediating 99.5 percent of all the petroleum-based spills in the state.”
It was noted that the majority of fire departments in the region, as well as the state, are rural, volunteer departments funded through membership dues or property taxes and fund-raisers.
“These volunteer fire departments and local governments do not have the financial resources to cover the cost of even one small hazardous materials spill,” states MRPC’s and MREPC’s resolutions.
SB 680’s fiscal note lists the cost to local entities and governments as unknown.
The MREPC is a subcommittee of the Meramec Regional Planning Commission and is charged with planning for hazardous materials emergency preparedness. The committee includes representatives from emergency management, emergency response, local industries, public health, local elected officials and the media from seven counties.
Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. A professional staff of 30, directed by the 52-member MRPC board, offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities. More information is available online at www.meramecregion.org.