Chemicals play important roles in our lives. From the cars we drive to the clothes wear and the packages that keep our food fresh, chemicals help us to achieve the quality of life we enjoy. Some of those chemicals have inherent hazards associated with their flammable, toxic, and/or reactive characteristics and are classified as hazardous materials.
There are many federal, state, and local regulations concerning the manufacture, transportation, storage, use, and disposal of hazardous materials, which are intended to protect the public and the environment. While these rules work to minimize the risk associated with chemical spills, they cannot eliminate them.
The City of Stuart has hazardous materials passing through its limits every day without incident. Large quantities are transported via rail and truck, and the containers are required to meet design safety standards set by the Federal government. While we have not had a significant chemical release, news reports from around the country illustrate that these incidents can happen anywhere.
The biggest concern for most people in the City, with respect to hazardous materials, is the train cargo that goes through the downtown. It is actually the safest mode of overland transportation. For every billion ton-miles of hazardous materials transported, trucks (which operate over inherently more dangerous public highways) are involved in more than 10 times as many accidents as the railroads.
Chemical Emergency Preparedness
The City of Stuart prepares for chemical emergencies in a variety of ways.
• Planning - The City has developed and maintains its own Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). The CEMP is an all-hazards plan that addresses the roles and responsibilities of all City departments and officials during an emergency, including public protection and public information.
• Response - The City coordinates with State and County officials to ensure that well-trained and well-equipped personnel respond in as timely a fashion as possible, and with enough resources to effectively mitigate the hazard.
• Oversight - The City has several staff members are part of the Treasure Coast Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). The LEPC was formed in 1988 to comply with the federal directive set forth in the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The committee, which includes representatives from Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Palm Beach Counties, receives EPA-required reports from facilities with chemical inventories that exceed certain quantity thresholds. It also reviews chemical release reports. Information from these reports are made available to the public upon request. The LEPC also coordinates regional training exercises and community outreach.