United States
           Environmental Protection
           Policy, Planning.
           And Evaluation
EPA 230-04-90-077
April 1990
Communicating WltrPfte
Public About Hazardous
Materials: An Examination
Of Local Practice

Risk Communication Series




                      Final Report on Phase Two of

                            Prepared for
                      UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR

                          W. David Conn
                         William L. Owens
                          Richard  C. Rich
                       Principal Investigators

                         Jarol El. Manheim
                          February 1930


 The authors are especially grateful to Ann Fisher and John Gustafson (EPA) for their COOD-
 eration and assistance with the project whose results are presented in this report Also
 thanked are the many EPA regional personnel, state and local officials, members of LEPCs
 and other organizations, concerned citizens, and others throughout the United States who
 participated in the study. Any opinions expressed in the report are those of the authors alone
 and do not reflect an official view of Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University or of the
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.          .
The information in this document has been funded in part by the United States Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) under Cooperative Agreement CR-814921. It has been subjected
to the Agency's peer and administrative review, and approved for publication as an EPA
document.  Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorse-
ment or recommendation for use.


                            TABLE OF CONTENTS
 Executive Summary	                             .  .


 Objectives	                            _

 Overview of Phase 2 Activities	                                      ซ
                                          	•	—	o
 Survey of LEPCs and their Members	                     4

     Introduction	|                          .
     Methodology	I."""!!"!!!!"!."!."	5
      •  Procedure	]  *  	7
        Response	1"!"!.'	a
     Findings and Analysis	...."....	"'""<*
        LEPCs as Organizations!	I!!!!.""""!".'	-H
        Mission Definition and Capacities of LEPCs	."!!"""	13
        Characteristics and Orientations of LEPC Membe7s"Z!!!!!!!"""!"Z!^^!ZZ*""26
 Case Studies	_                                          .-

     Introduction	                                            ,_
     Methodology	""!!!"""""""""".."."""!!	42
        Case Study Selection	".  	:	4ซ
        Field Research	.'..'.'"."!!"!!!!!!!"":!.".'!!"!!!!"	44
        Case Study Questionnaire	.....".!	45
     Findings and Discussion	."!....."!..."."!."]."..."!.."!!.."	    *   46
        Risk Communication Activities	"."1"!!....!.!!!!..".."..."!!."!.	"    46
        Recommendations of Risk Communicators	'..'..'.'~*	50
        Case Study Questionnaire Results	.""..........	53
Summary of Findings	 "                 57

    LEPC Survey	i                          57
    Case Studies	'.'.'.'".'.'.'.'.'."''''	60

Concluding Discussion and Recommendations	1	64
Bibliography	^                           83
Appendix A: Data Collection Instruments - LEPC Survey

Appendix B: Data Collection Instruments - Case Studies


                            EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  The purpose of this study is to improve the ability of public and private sector organizations
  to communicate with members of the general public about the risks posed by hazardous
  materials, such as those found in Superfund or RCRA sites, or subject to SARA Title III. The
  first phase of the project examined selected aspects of the local emergency response plan-
  ning process mandated by Title III of SARA,  as carried out in Virginia.1

  The seco.nd phase, reported here, expanded the focus,  including a national survey of Local
  Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) and case studies of selected risk communication
 The survey was designed to assess the risk communication efforts of LEPCs and to gauge
 their capacity for promoting risk communication in their communities.  The survey was con-
 ducted in a sample of ten states selected to represent the range of organizational patterns
 and community conditions across the nation.  Packets of questionnaires for the members
 and an information form on the LEPC were sent in January 1989 to the chairs of all local
 committees in the states of Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New York,
 Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. Fifty six percent of the LEPCs we were able
 to contact responded to the survey,  sending in 199 information forms and 1,468 member
 questionnaires.  While we are confident that this sample is generally representative  of all
 LEPCs. it is possible that the responses are slightly biased in favor of the more active, better
 organized committees and the more interested and'involved members, and may overstate
 the quality and activity level of the "average"  LEPC.

 Among the findings produced from analyses of responses to the survey are the following:

 1.  The majority of LEPCs have put in place the basic mechanisms for communicating risk
    and emergency  response information to the public, but few have actively advertised the
    availability of this information.
'  Conn, W. D.. W. L. Owens. R. C. Rich, and J. B. Manheim. Processing Hazardous Materials Risk Infor-
  mation at the Local Level. EPA-230-06-89-063.  Washington, D.C.: U.S. Environmental Protection
  Agency, 1989.

2.   Most LEPCs have made little effort to involve the public in the Title III planning process,
    and those that have done so generally have not actively sought input by, for example,
    holding public forums or sending representatives to address other local organizations.

3.   There was no statistical relationship between the number of facilities within an LERC's
    jurisdiction and the degree to which the LEPC had been aggressive in its efforts to
    communicate with the public.

4.   The majority of LEPCs had  received no requests for information under the Community-
    Rig ht-to-Know provisions of Title III and 88% had received fewer than 10 requests for
    such information.  More requests came from individual  citizens than from any other
    source, with community and environmental groups providing the second largest number
    of requests.

5.   LEPCs that had attempted to make information public had received more requests, sug-
    gesting that the level of public interest  in hazardous materials issues can be raised by
    concerted  effort.

6.   However, most LEPCs plan to reduce their level of activity once their emergency plans
    have been accepted by the state, and show few signs of shifting to a more active role in
    risk communication.

7.   Most LEPCs report few contacts with local environmental groups and little cooperation
    with them. However, there is a positive correlation between the frequency of contact
    with such groups and the degree to which LEPC members describe these contacts as
    cooperative and view the environmental groups as  representative of the public.

8.   Most LEPC members regard their organizations as quite capable of carrying out the
    technical aspects of response planning, but they express far less confidence in the
    committee's capacity for communicating with the public, involving citizens in the plan-
    ning process, or stimulating public debate on hazardous materials issues.

9.   The typical LEPC member devotes less than one hour a month to securing public input
    for the planning process or to educating the public  about hazardous materials issues -
    far less time than  is given to more technical tasks such as identifying facilities and
    studying response techniques.

10. Most LEPC members are dissatisfied with both the  amount and the quality of the cover-
    age given  to their work by  local television, radio, and newspapers.

    I    11.  LEPC members generally have a narrow concept of risk communication in none'mer-
    I        gency situations. Rather than encouraging public consideration of ways to reduce or
    ; -       manage risks, they tend to focus exclusively on preparing the community to respond to
    ,        accidents.
    f                                                            ;
 -   ;    12.  Most LEPC members said they would use training materijils that were designed to im-
 .   i        prove their ability to communicate with the public and secure citizen input for the plan-
    ;        ning process, suggesting that the production and distribution of such materials to LEPCs
 v   I        and State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) may be beneficial.
    !        ป
 .   ;    Title III of SARA requires that a variety of groups be represented on the LEPCs.  We found
    !    that all states have a mixture of these groups on their committees, but that there is consid-
    :    erable variation  in the degree to  which different  groups are represented. Some states'
    ;    LEPCs tend to be dominated numerically by a combination of emergency responders and
        representatives of business and  industry, while olhers'are composed  primarily of govern-
    i    ment officials and emergency responders.  In all cases, persons from the media, environ-
*       mental groups, and community organizations are in the minority. The average LEPC in our
 -.   !    sample gave only 10% of its seats to representatives of these groups. However, we found
-   ,    no consistent pattern of differences in the opinions expressed by members of these  various
    ,    groups, which may indicate that the recruitment  process has tended to place  less critical
        members of these "watchdog" groups on the LEPCs.

        Case studies provided a second source of information for the study. Through consultation
    '.    with EPA regional offices, SERCs, and other sources,  we sought to identify examples of in-
    !    novative risk communication efforts in specific communities. While few examples were
        available, we were able to arrange case studies  in St James Parish, LA;  Ei Paso
        County/Colorado Springs, CO; and Contra Costa County, CA, as well as secondary case
        studies in neighboring areas.  The objectives of the case studies were to learn what risk
        communication techniques had been tried, to secure suggestions for risk communication
    |    programs from practitioners, and  to assess the level of hazardous materials awareness
        among a sample of the attentive public in each community.  To these ends,  in-person and
       telephone interviews were conducted with local officials, media figures, and community
       leaders, and a mail questionnaire was sent to a sample of opinion mediators in each com-
    •'   munity.                                        -

       The case study risk communication activities fell  into four categories: (1) publications, press
    ;   releases, and video-tapes; (2) public presentations and forums; (3) communicating through

schools and libraries; and (4) public access to information about hazardous material's and
response planning.  These activities focused mainly on emergency response information
such as where to go for instructions in the event of ah accident or how to evacuate a given
area.  There was little information on the nature, source, or extent of actual risks from haz-
ardous materials, and the information that was available was not always in a form that would
be useful to average citizens.

Those who had been especially involved with communicating risk information offered the
following suggestions:

1.  It Is important to share risk information with the public to avoid misunderstandings and
    build trust in the sources of risk information.

2.  Risk information should be communicated before an emergency.

3.  Risk communicators should communicate with and through existing organizations in the
    community.  This can build trust as well as utilizing convenient conduits for information
    to large segments of the public.

4.  Larger issues can be addressed by building on initially small efforts, such as providing
    information about household hazardous waste.

5.  Emergency response drills can be  an effective way of attracting community attention to
    the  issue of hazardous materials risks and educating  the citizenry on how to protect  it-

The mail survey of local opinion mediators indicated that, although exceptional risk com-
munication efforts took place in the communities, even attentive citizens are generally not
well informed about hazardous materials issues.  Only a third of the respondents were
members of some organization that had sought to learn about these issues, and only 11%
felt they knew what to do to protect themselves and their families in an  actual emergency.
However, most expressed, willingness  to devote considerable effort to becoming better in-
formed.  Most would turn to local government for information in the'event of an emergency,
and those who had acquired information  on this topic had most often received  it from local
government rather than the LEPC or some other source.

Our work suggests several important questions and recommendations:

  Why should a community have a hazardous materials risk communication program'' Such
  a program can (1) improve the technical sufficiency-of the emergency response plan by se-
  curing additional information from citizens, (2) heighten citizens' understanding of the plan
  and thereby increase its effectiveness, (3) increase the credibility and legitimacy of the plan
  (4) stimulate public discussions that may lead to risk reduction,  and (5) reduce the  level of '
  citizen "outrage" following a major accident.

  What should be the role of the LEPC in a risk communication program? The LEPC  should
  develop a plan for a  risk communication program, but will usually not be responsible for its
  implementation.  The LEPC should act as an advocate for active  risk communication efforts
  and should coordinate the activities of various agencies,  but the  actual risk communication
  should be implemented by other organizations with the staff ซnd resources to carry out an
  effective long-term, community-wide effort.

 How should a risk communication plan be developed and what elements should it contain*
 The plan should be devised by the LEPC  in consultation with response organizations, media
 and any community organizations that  might have a role in its implementation.  It should be
 made a component of the emergency response plan, and the LEPC should seek assistance
 from communication specialists in developing materials and procedures to be  included in
 the plan. The risk communication plan should provide for:

 1.  An on-going program of risk communication and education  that can accommodate pop-
    ulation turnover, changing conditions, and fading memories.

 2.  A series  of public forums designed  to share risk information with the public in an inter-
    active setting that fosters confidence and promotes efforts to reduce risks.

 3.  A system by which emergency response plans and information on specific  hazardous
    materials in the community are made readily available to the public on demand and in
    a form that is understandable.

4.  Provisions for giving citizens concrete instructions  about how  to protect themselves in
    an  emergency.

5. Contact lists of the names and addresses of persons who can  be called  upon to help
   disseminate information both prior to and during an emergency.

6.   A "press kit" designed to assist the media in covering both emergency and nonemer-
    gency hazardous materials stories effectively.

7.   Forma! provisions for the regular review and up-dating of the risk communication plan
    to reflect changing conditions.

Who should carry out a hazardous materials risk communication program and how should
it relate to other risk communication efforts? The hazardous materials risk communication
plan should be implemented by a local public or quasi-public agency that has the confidence
of the public. The SERCs should be encouraged to serve as conduits for information about
innovative risk communication programs, training opportunities, and other efforts to improve
the risk communication capacities of the LEPCs in their states. The SERCs might also or-
ganize programs to assist local committees in developing risk communication components
for  their local emergency response plans.

At the national level, EPA could develop and distribute materials that would assist LEPCs in
designing effective risk communication plans. These would include a guidebook for com-
munication planning that could be adapted to the unique situation of each community. A
particular community's hazardous materials risk communication plan should be coordinated
with other risk communication efforts (such as those concerned with Superfund sites, natural
disasters, or nuclear power plants) that may be underway.

 The past few years have seen a growing recognition in the United States and elsewhere of
 the risks posed by the production, storage, transportation, use-, and disposal of hazardous
 materials. Many organizations are struggling with efforts to communicate to the general
 public information about these risks. In this study we are concerned with a variety of or-
 ganizations involved in risk communication at the local level.

 The overall purpose of this study is to improve the ability of public and private sector or-
 ganizations to communicate - to members of the general public - information relating to the
 risks posed by hazardous materials.  Our primary focus to date has been on the Local
 Emergency Planning Committees (tEPCs), established  under the Emergency  Planning and
 Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986, otherwise known as Title III of the Superfund
 Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). The LEPCs are required to include elected
 local officials, police, fire, civil defense, public health professionals, environmental,  hospital,
 and transportation officials, as well as representatives of facilities subject to the emergency
 planning requirements, community groups, and the media. The LEPC's role includes pre-
 paring and subsequently updating local emergency response plans as well as helping to in-
 crease the public's knowledge of, and access to, information on the presence of hazardous
 materials in their communities and the releases of these chemicals into the environment.
 The problems faced by the LEPCs in  communicating risk information to the public are
 thought to be typical of those faced by other organizations, such as those involved in risk
 communication at Superfund sites. Our expectation is that the-findings for LEPCs can be
 applied to situations involving  Superfund sites and RCRA sites. However we decided to start
with LEPCs because public opinion lends to polarize quickly once a Superfund or RCRA site
has been identified.

During Phase 1 of the research, the t€$am (1) evaluated a presentation on hazards analysis

given by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to LEPCs and other organizations

involved in local hazardous materials emergency planning, and (2) studied the knowledge,
perceptions, and expectations of organizations and individuals charged with the task of local

hazardous materials emergency planning. Phase 1  was conducted entirely within the Com-

monwealth of Virginia and is described in Conn et al., 1989.

During Phase 2, in which the focus was expanded to the national level, the team (1) obtained

information about the perceptions and practices, with respect to risk communication, of a

sample of LEPCs and other organizations in ten states, and (2) studied and evaluated, in a

few selected locations, the efforts of these and other community-based organizations to

communicate to the public information about hazardous materials risks. This report covers

Phase 2, conducted between September 1988 and August 1989.


The objectives of Phase 2 were as follows:

1.   To explore the effectiveness of the local emergency planning process (under Title III)

    and other approaches to providing the public with information about the risks associated

    with hazardous materials.

2.   To secure officials' opinions of the effectiveness of the Title III  emergency planning

    process soon after the deadline for the submission of the plans.'

3.   To identify and evaluate innovative ways of communicating with the public about (1) the

    risks from hazardous  materials (including those associated with Superfund sites), and

    (2) elements of emergency response plans.


 The following activities were undertaken in Phase 2:

 1.  In collaboration with  EPA headquarters and regional personnel, we selected ten states

    (one in each EPA region) for a survey of LEPCs and their members.

 2.  W6 developed and pretested two mail survey instruments: an LEPC Information Form

    and a member  questionnaire.
 3.  With the knowledge of the appropriate EPA regional offices and State Emergency Re-

    sponse Commissions (SERCs), we  mailed survey packages to the chairs of all LEPCs in

    the ten states and asked that they distribute the questionnaires to their members.

4.  We sent written reminders to the LEPC chairs as appropriate to encourage a higher re-

    sponse rate. An overall response rate of 55% of the LEPCs was achieved by July 1989.

5.  We coded the Information Forms and questionnaires for computer entry and analyzed -

    the responses.

6.  We contacted the EPA regional offices, SERCs, and others in an effort to identify com-
    munities that were known to have engaged in innovative risk communication activities.

    With some difficulty we identified a  small number of communities whose efforts ap-

    peared to be worthy of detailed study.


7.   We visited three states where we developed in-depth case studies in three communities

    and examined risk communication activities  in several other communities within the

    same three, states.

8.   We followed up on the case studies with the mailing of a brief questionnaire to a total

    of 221 "opinion mediators" in the three communities.

9.   We sent written reminders to the opinion mediators as appropriate to encourage a

    higher response rate, and secured 104 completed questionnaires for an overall response

    rate of 47%.

10.  We analyzed the responses from the opinion leaders.

11.  We developed conclusions and recommendations from all of the Phase 2 activities.

The results of these activities are described  in the remainder of the report.



Implementation of the risk communication objectives of Title III depends in part on the efforts

of the individual Local Emergency  Planning Committees to develop a plan for informing the

public of hazardous materials risks.  It is, therefore, important to learn how the committees

define their responsibilities and what actions they have taken to fulfill those responsibilities.

Recognizing that the perceptions, values, and skills of the LEPC members are crucial to the

functioning of these organizations, it is also important to discover how individual LEPC

members view their organization and its role under Title III.  To answer these and other

questions, we conducted a mail survey of all of the  LEPCs  in ten states.  This section of the

report presents the results of the survey. We first explain the methods used to conduct the

survey, then describe the responses received, and finally examine the patterns discovered

in these responses under three main headings: The LEPCs as Organizations; Mission Defi-

nition and Capacities of the LEPCs; and Characteristics and Orientations of LEPC Members.


The objective of the survey was to gather data from a manageable number of local commit-

tees in such a way as to allow us to draw conclusions about all LEPCs. The  most desirable

way to achieve this goal would have been to survey a random sample of the  nation's LEPC

members. However, the virtual impossibility of obtaining a complete and unbiased fist of

names and addresses of all LEPC members dictated against this approach.  Moreover, we

wanted to be able to compare states since there  is so much variation in the way individual

states have responded to the mandate of Title  III.  Even if a random sample of LEPC mem-

bers had been possible, it would have produced results that were representative of the na-

tion as a whole, but may not have been representative of conditions in individual states.

Consequently, we elected to take a sample of states judged to be typical (if not represen-

tative in a statistical sense) of the nation. We then attempted to survey enough LEPCs in

each state to provide a  valid basis for conclusions about that state's implementation of Title

The following criteria guided our selection of states to be included in the study:

                                                        |                      '

1.   We wanted one state from each of the ten regions into which the EPA divides the nation

    for administrative purposes in order^to ensure a truly national sample and to capture the


    effects of any variation in EPA regional practice with regard to Title III provisions.

     2.  While recognizing that every state is unique in many respects, we sought to avoid se-

         lecting any state that was likely to be atypical of its region due to exceptional conditions

         or history.

     3.  We wanted to include states that EPA regional officials and SERC members told us were

         likely to include  LEPCs or other organizations making concerted efforts to  involve the

         public in the Title III planning process or experimenting with creative approaches to risk


     4.  We sought to obtain a mixture of large and small states with an over-all balance among

         urban and rural areas and among areas with high and low concentrations  of hazardous

<*        materials-handling facilities.

     5.  We wanted the sample to include examples of some of the variety of ways in which

         states are divided into LEPC districts. As  a result, the sample is composed primarily of

         states that, like most in the nation, organize their LEPCs around counties,  cities or other

         local units but also includes states that rely on larger districts.

      Following consultation with EPA headquarters and regional personnel, with state officials,

      and others, we were led by the interplay of these criteria to select the states of:

                   Alabama                  New York

                   California                  Rhode Island

                   Louisiana                  Utah

                   Maryland                  Washington

                   Missouri                  Wisconsin

  In an effort to obtain a large enough sample of each state's LEPCs, allowing for an antic-

  ipated response rate of no more than 50%. we sent the survey to all local emergency plan-

  ning committees in each of the ten states.  This produced an initial sample frame of 400

  LEPCs. We were unable to secure valid addresses for 4 and another 8 responded that their

  organization was "inactive" or existed "only on paper," effectively reducing the-sample frame
 to 388.
 The procedure for the survey was to send each LEPC chair a packet containing a cover letter

 explaining the survey, a single-sheet LEPC Information Form (Infoform), a set of question-

 naires for the LEPC members, and a prepaid, self-addressed return envelope. The cover

 letter  explained that the chair was to (1) complete the Infoforrn for the organization, (2) dis-

 tribute the member questionnaires to the members by whatever means he or she saw fit, (3)

 collect the completed questionnaires, and (4) mail both the questionnaires and the Infoform

 back to us in the envelope provided. A sample of all the materials from the packet is con-
 tained in Appendix A.                                     !



 We had no way of determining in advance the number of members of each LEPC without the

 time-consuming and costly task of contacting each organization.  However, our discussions

 with EPA and state officials led us to assume that few  LEPCs would have more than 24

 members.  Accordingly, we included this number of questionnaires in each packet in  an ef-

 fort to  be sure that we provided enough questionnaires.for most local committees.  (In fact,

 we had only two requests for additional questionnaires and only two LEPCs photocopied

 questionnaires on their own to provide enough for all of their members.) This produced a

 mailing of 9,672 member questionnaires to the 400 LEPCs on our original mailing  list.  Each

questionnaire was stamped with the identifying number of the LEPC, folded, and inserted

into a plain envelope.  In an effort to encourage frank answers by ensuring anonymity, the


  questionnaire instructed members to return the completed questionnaire to its envelope.
  seal the envelope, and return it to the LEPC chair without any identifying marks. Judging
  from the condition in which we received the questionnaires, this strategy worked well in
  most cases. A few chairs, however, apparently followed procedures which jeopardized an-
  onymity.  Some wrote the members' names on the envelopes or opened the sealed envel-
  opes before returning them to us. Some members failed to sea! the envelopes so that it
  would have been possible for someone to examine the questionnaires before returning it to
  us. Given the fact that the questions pose little threat to leaders or other LEPC members,
 we feel that none of these actions is likely to have biased responses in any-significant way.

 Packets were sent to LEPC chairs in January. 1989.  Any who; had not responded after two
 months were sent  a reminder with a return addressed response card to use in informing us
 of the status of the survey. Those who had still not responded by the end of April were sent
 another reminder and a second Infoform with a request that they at least complete and re-
 turn the Info form if they were unable to have their members fill  out questionnaires.  We dia
 not mail out a second full set of questionnaires to LEPCs that did not respond  primarily be-
 cause of the cost of mailing these packets.  We also knew that any given chair may be
 holding the survey  until the LEPC's next meeting and we did not want to press them unnec-

The complexity of our survey procedure allowed for several types of responses.  Most LEPC
chairs who responded complied with our request and returned both an Infoform and member
questionnaires. However, some returned only the Infoform amd others returned only mem-
ber questionnaires.  Figure 1  shows the responses we received from each of the states in
the study.  Since this was a judgmental rather than a probability sample, the
representativeness of the sample does not depend primarily on the response rate. However,


  after dropping LEPCs that were "inactive" or could not be contacted from our potential sam-
  ple, the overall response rate for LEPCs was 56%. We consider this rate to be quite satis-
  factory for a survey of this type and feel that it provides an adequate basis for drawing
  conclusions about Title III implementation at the national level. At the state level, we can
  have a good deal of confidence in conclusions about those states in which the state-wide
  response rates were at least 50%, but are less secure in generalizations about states like
  Missouri and Louisiana which had very low response rates.

  Calculating the  response  rate for individual LEPC members is more complicated. Since we
  have no way of knowing how many members there were in the ten states at the time of the
 survey, we cannot say what the overall response rate for individuals was. We can say that
 those LEPCs which sent in LEPC Infoforms reported a total of 4,461 membership positions.
 Since we sought responses from all members but received only 1,468  individual question-
 naires,  our overall nominal response rate was 33%. While this seems low, three consider-
 ations suggest that we need not be too worried about a low return jeopardizing
 representativeness.  In the first place, our knowledge of the operation of LEPCs indicates
 that most depend primarily on the efforts of a core of active members and that many nominal
 members are only marginally involved in the committees. It is the active members who are
 most likely to understand the functioning of the LEPCs and to influence their operation.
 Since they are also most likely to be the ones attending a meeting at which the questionnaire
 was distributed and most likely to have the knowledge and interest to fill out a questionnaire.
 it may be that we have a far better sample of active members  than of all members. More-
 over, we may have a more accurate picture of the LEPCs from the responses of this active
 core than we would have gained from a larger sample of less involved members. Second,
 when one considers that national public opinion polls of the entire adult population of the
 U.S. are routinely based  on samples of no more than 1,500, our base of 1,468 respondents
is a very large sample for the relatively small number of persons who are members of the
LEPCs.  Finally, and most importantly, mosf of the patterns found in the responses we re-

ceived are so strong that there is little reason to believe that having additional responses
would have altered our basic conclusions.
                                      Figure 1
                          Responses to the Survey by State
New York
Rhode Island
The data collection procedure we used (like all similar mail surveys) may have produced one
systematic bias in our sample.  The responses may have come disproportionately from the
more active, better organized local committees since their officers are more likely to be
willing to take part in such a survey and to be able to contact their members and persuade
them to participate.  In addition, we probably got responses primarily from the more involved

    and concerned members of these committees since they are more likely both to have been
    at a meeting where the questionnaire was distributed and to be interested enough to com-
    plete it. Together, these effects may have lead to a "creaming" of LEPCs and their members,
    and may have produced data which overstates the quality of the LEPCs. We have no way
    of determining if this bias actually exists in our data, but readers should be alert to its
    possible effects and may want to interpret the results we report in light of it
                              FINDINGS  AND ANALYSIS

                              The LEPCs as Organizations

   Information about the LEPCs as organizations can be obtained both from the chairs' re-
<   sponses to the Infoform and by aggregating members' responses to questions about the
   operation of the local committee. We received completed Infoforms from  199 organizations.
i   Based on the information contained in those forms, as of April 1989, the average LEPC had
   been in existence for 17 months and had 23 members. Eighty four percent had completed
   their local emergency response plan and submitted it to their respective SERC for approval,
;   6% had completed but not submitted their plan, and less than 10% reported that they were
   still developing their plan.

   According to the chairs, the average number of facilities that were -supposed to report to
|   each  LEPC was 74.  This number is slightly inflated by the fact that California uses a system
,   of six regional LEPCs with an average of 500 facilities in each jurisdiction.  The second
;   highest average of 157 is in Missouri, followed by Louisiana with an average of 119 facilities
;  per jurisdiction. The lowest averages were reported  by Rhode Island with  24 facilities per
!  LEPC  and Alabama with 35.  Though some committees reported responsibility for over 1,000

facilities, 81% of the LEPCs indicated that there were fewer than 100 facilities in their juris-

dictions. The  average LEPC reported that 45% of the facilities that had reported had sent

in lists of regulated materials rather than material safety data sheets (MSDSs) on individual

chemicals and several volunteered that this was at the request of the LEPC.

Since the danger of a hazardous materials emergency will generally increase with the

number of facilities in an area, it is reasonable to expect the number of facilities in a juris-

diction to be related to the degree to which the local committees have attempted to inform

the public about chemical hazards or to bring the public into the plannjng process. However,

when we examine  data from the states  in our sample, there is no consistent statistical re-

lationship between the number of facilities in a jurisdiction and the extent of the LEPCs' risk

communication efforts.  LEPCs that are responsible for a large number of facilities are no

more likely to have taken steps to communicate with the citizenry than are those responsible

for smaller numbers  of hazardous materials sites.
Informing the Public Under Community-Right-to-Know Provisions

One of the first things we wanted to know about the operation of the LEPCs is what pro-

visions they had made for informing citizens of the local plan and for making  information on

hazardous materials in the community available to citizens. We asked  if the LEPC had taken

each of a series of steps toward these goals.  Figure 2 summarizes their answers.

                                         Figure 2
         LEPC Efforts to Make Hazardous Materials Information Available to the Public
                        ACTIVITY                                       ฐ/0 OF LEPCs
                        ACTIV'TY                                       REPORTING
  Designated an office to disseminate information
  Advertised the address and phone of this office                              59
Perhaps one reason that LEPCs might not make the sharing of Title III information a high

priority is that they have received very few requests for such information and do not feel that

the public is concerned with hazardous materials issues. In fact, the  majority (53%) of

LEPCs in our sample reported that they had received no requests, and 88% had received

fewer than ten inquiries.  Only five organizations claimed to have received fifty or more re-

quests. The average number of requests reported by all LEPCs was 4.5.  We asked the

chairs to indicate the most common source of requests for Title III information. Of the 84

organizations that had received requests and had records from which to answer the ques-

tion, 38%  identified "individual  citizens" as the most common source of requests.  The sec-

ond most commonly identified source was "community groups" with 12% naming them as

responsible for the most requests.  Environmental groups were identified by 7% while the

media were identified by 6%. Smaller percentages identified  businesses, government

agencies and other groups as the source of the most requests.
The small number of requests may be interpreted as showing a lack of public interest.

However the pattern of requests suggests that it may be possible to increase the level of

interest.  First, 57% of the LEPCs said that they were more likely to get requests from citi-

zens (as  individuals or as members of community or environmental groups) than from insti-

tutional sources.  This suggests that the public (as opposed to government, the media, or

other institutions) is the main source of requests. There is also reason to believe that citi-

zens can be stimulated to learn more about hazardous materials dangers in their communi-

ties. For example, there is a weak but positive correlation between the number of requests

received  by LEPCs and whether or not the LEPC had (a) advertised the existence of an office

to provide Title III information (r = .16; p<.01); (b) invited the public to attend LEPC  meetings

(r = .15;"p<.02); and (c) sent representatives to address other organizations (r=.13; p<.05).

In addition, the number of requests received was positively correlated with the number of

                                                                        "   14

 facilities reporting to the LEPC (r = .20; p<.005).  All of this suggests that a more aggressive
 effort to inform the public could result in somewhat higher levels of public interest in ac-
 quiring hazardous materials information.
Involving the Public in the Title III Planning Process

We investigated the activities LEPCs had undertaken to involve the public in developing or
updating the local response plan by asking chairs to tell us how frequently their organization
had used each of several possible techniques for gaining public input and informing the
public of LEPC activities. Figure 3 reports their responses.  It shows a clear emphasis on
less proactive approaches to risk communication in that larger percentages of the organ-
izations report having used the first two methods of disseminating information - methods
which place the burden of action on others. LEPCs report much less reliance on the next
three, more outreach-oriented methods.

Figure 4 indicates the variation by state in the degree to which LEPCs have undertaken more
active efforts to reach the public.  It suggests that the various methods of getting information
out are relatively independent of each  other since those states! with high percentages of
LEPCs that have never used any given method generally do not have especially high per-
centages that have never used other methods.  Rhode Island is an exception to this since it
has relatively high percentages of committees that report never using any of the three pro-
active strategies. One explanation for  this may be the degree to which emergency
responders are heavily represented  on Rhode Island's LEPCs while citizens' groups are less
represented. Our observations of emergency responders suggest that, as a group, they tend
to focus on the technical side of response planning  and see little value in securing the

                                       Figure 3

                 LEPC Efforts to Involve the Public in Response Planning
Invited the media to cover LEPC activities
Placed announcements of LEPC meetings
Invited public attendance at LEPC meetings
Sent representatives to other organizations
Held public hearings or meetings on Title III
Published the response plan for the public
'Measured on a five-point scale in which five corresponds to "frequently" and one to "never".
opinions of people who have no chemical emergency training. Moreover, responders often

feel that providing the public with information on dangers can unnecessarily complicate their

job by creating panic or generating unwarranted requests for action or additional informa-

tion.  If this impression is accurate, it is reasonable to assume that LEPCs that are more

heavily influenced by responders will be less aggressive in seeking public input or dissem-

inating risk information.

                                       Figure 4
               Failure to Use Proactive Efforts to Inform the Public, by State
  % OF LEPCs                                 STATE
                                                                       WA   WJ
THAT NEVER:       AL    CA    LA    MD   MO    NY    R|    (JT
 Invited public
                                              ฐ%   29%  43%  33%   39%   13%
 Sent represent-
 ives to other        21%  .0%   28%  25%  38%   29%   43%  17%   36%   22%
 Held public
 meetings6'         29%  *™   "%  5ฐ%  22%   3%   86%  33%   29%   53%
 We also asked if the LEPCs had developed a "press kit" to distribute to the local media to
 provide them with information for use in covering the Title III planning process and the most
 likely hazardous materials emergencies in their community. Only 4% said they had such a
 kit while 21% said they were in the process of developing a kit. Three quarters of the LEPCs
 had not taken this step to facilitate risk communication. Moreover, while there  was some
 variation from  state-to-state, in no state had more than 8%  of the LEPCs developed a press
Most local committees have obviously preferred less aggressive approaches to involving the
public in response planning.  It is reasonable to deduce from this thai few citizens are aware
of the Title III process or have taken part in it. This conclusion takes on added importance
when considered against evidence that most local committees will be cutting back on their
activity level when their response plan is approved.  We asked how often they met before
completing the plan and how often they planned to meet after the plan  had been  approved.
Fifty five percent reported that they had met monthly or more often before submitting the

plan, and only 21% said that they had met quarterly or less frequently.  However, only 34%

reported that they planned to meet monthly or more often after the plan was approved, and

41% indicated that they would meet quarterly or less often, while 13% said they would meet

"as needed" after the plan was approved.  Only 5% of the committees indicated that they

planned to increase the frequency with which they met. All this suggests a reduced level

of activity for most LEPCs in the important second stage of local emergency response plan-

ning in which citizens must be informed of the plan's  content if they are to cooperate in its

implementation, and in which there are more opportunities to improve the plan or find ways

to reduce risks through securing citizen input.
                  Mission Definition and Capacities of the LEPCs

Since their members' perceptions of conditions and definition of the local committees'

mission will profoundly influence what the LEPCs actually do about risk communication, it is

important to examine the aggregated responses of members as indicators of how the LEPCs

will perform as organizations. Perhaps the most informative question in this regard is our

initial open-ended question about what the members saw as the most important purpose of

the LEPC after the response plan has been approved. Almost two-thirds of the respondents

(64%) gave an answer which had to do with maintaining the emergency  response plan -

up-dating it; coordinating it with other plans; identifying hazardous materials facilities; mon-

itoring changing conditions; coordinating planning activities of various offices.  Only 13%

referred to educating the public about hazardous materials issues. Another 10% said that

informing the public  of hazardous materials risks was the LEPC's key purpose. Seven per-

cent gave the general answer of "ensuring public safety," and the remaining members gave

answers that fell  into a wide range of "other" categories.  This suggests that the members

 generally do not see the role of the LEPCs as shifting to a more broadly based public edu-

 cation function once the plan is in place.

 When asked what was the single  most important problem their organization would face in

 fulfilling this mission, the  largest single group (38%) agreed that it was inadequate funding

 or staff support.  The next largest group (12%) cited a lack of public interest in the issue.

 No other single problem was identified by as many as 10% of the respondents and only four

 other items were cited by as many as 5%. They were:  lack of cooperation from local busi-

 nesses,  8%; lack of government cooperation, 6%; technical problems (like a lack of neces-

 sary equipment or inadequate communications technology), 6%; and insufficient time to

 work on LEPC tasks, 5%.  Apparently LEPC members, as a group, do not see  any single

 major barrier to achieving their objectives, though majorities of some  individual LEPCs saw

 funding and staff as the major problem.

 We also  asked  members to evaluate their committee's capacities in several areas using a

 five-point scale in which 5 represented "excellent" and 1 represented "inadequate". The

 responses are summarized in Figure 5. They provide a picture of a group of members who

 are highly confident of their organizations' capacity to handle planning-tasks but far less sure

 of their ability to communicate with the public or environmental groups and quite dissatisfied

 with the  degree to which they have achieved public visibility or confidence.

 This pattern is also reflected in  responses to several questions that asked members to as-

 sess the likelihood that their LEPC could accomplish each of several goals.  Figure 6 sum-

 marizes the answers by showing the percent of members that said that the LEPC  had a

 better than 50150 chance of accomplishing  the goal, and the average rating on a five-point

 scale in which 5 represented "very likely" and  1 corresponded to "not likely." While the

 majority were confident of  their  ability to achieve the more technical risk communication

goals, less than a  majority  felt thai the LEPC could effectively roach the citizenry or stimulate

debate of environmental issues. Clearly LEPC members are aware of their organizations'

tenuous links to the public.
                                      Figure 5

                          Members' Evaluation of Their LEPC
Competent and dedicated members
Capacity for communicating with government
Capacity for communicating with business
Information gathering capacity
Capacity for analyzing information
Relations with the news media
Communication with environmental groups
Communication with the public
Public confidence in ability to protect
the community's interests
Public visibility
 *On a five-point scale in which 5 represents "excellent" and 1 represents "poor.

                                       Figure 6

             Members' Assessment of the Likelihood of Accomplishing Goals
Respond effectively to requests for information
Improve community understanding of risk information
Inform citizens of the plan's provisions
Stimulate discussion of environmental issues
Secure adequate citizen input for updating plan
*On a five-point scale where 5 represents "very likely" and 1  represents "not likely."
These linkages were explored further when we asked the members to tell us how they per-

ceived the cooperation their committee received from local businesses. This cooperation

can be crucial to obtaining the information needed to develop an effective plan. Fifty four

percent of respondents said that their LEPC received good to excellent cooperation from lo-

cal businesses handling hazardous materials materials. However, there was significant

variation among the states. The following data show that the proportion of California's LEPC

members who described business cooperation as "excellent" was dramatically lower than

the proportion in other states.  This may reflect the fact that California's LEPCs are organized

on a regional basis which makes it difficult for them to develop a working relationship with

locally-based firms. By contrast, Louisiana is the state in which the  largest number of LEPC

members rate business cooperation as "excellent".  This is consistent with the close re-

lationships between business and the LEPCs which  we observed in  our case study in

Louisiana. Businesses in that state have been eager to become involved in the Title III

process as a means of influencing it.


      Percentage of Members Who See the Cooperation Received from Local Firms
                                   as Excellent in:

      	AL    CA    LA    MD    MO    NY    Rl     UT    WA   Wl

             18%   3%   30%   13%   20%   29%   25%   12%   16%  13%
Relations with Environmentalists and the Media

Two groups of actors who can be a great help to the LEPCs in reaching the public or can

create problems for the local committees are local environmental organizations and the

media. Accordingly, we sought to assess the relationships between LEPCs and these

groups with a series of questions to the members. First, we asked the LEPC members to

assess the level of activity by local environmental organizations.  Forty one percent de-

scribed these groups as relatively inactive while 38% saw them as moderately active and

21% said they were relatively active.  When asked to rate the frequency of contacts with

environmental groups on a five-point scale, only 14% of the LEPC members said that their

committee had relatively frequent contact with  such organizations while 57% described

contacts as relatively infrequent.  In assessing the character of interactions with environ-

mental groups, 35% of LEPC members described these contacts as closer to cooperation

than confrontation while 13% said that the contacts were more nearly confrontational than

cooperative, and the majority rated contacts as  neutral in character.

Figure 7 shows that there was significant variation among the states in this regard.  Perhaps

the most obvious point in this figure is the fact that California LEPCs seem to have poor re-

lations with environmental groups. While California members  were mosi likely to rate local


 groups as "active" (as one might expect from a knowledge of the politics of the state), they

 were least likely to say that their LEPC had frequent contact with these groups or to say that

 the contacts were cooperative. Given the strong representation of public interest members

 on California's LEPCs which we report in Figure 11 below, we can only speculate that the

 regional organization of California's LEPCs makes it difficult for working relationships to de-

 velop.  By contrast, Louisiana's members do not see environmental as especially active,

 but are the most likely to describe LEPC contacts with environmental groups as both fre-

 quent and cooperative.
                                       Figure 7

              Members' Assessment of Contact with Environmental Groups
AL    CA    LA    MD    MO   NY
UT    WA    Wf
Local environ.
groups as
Contacts with
environ, gps.
as frequent**
Contacts with
environ gps. as




33% 20%

3% 24%

23% 45%










• 11%
39% 33%









    Responses 4 and'5 on a five-point scale where 5 represents "very active".
**^  Responses 4 and 5 on a five-point scale where 5 represents "frequent contact".
    Responses 4 and 5 on a five-point scale where 5 represents "generally cooperative".
The LEPCs and local environmental organizations potentially share a variety of interests in
informing the public about environmental issues and could be
                                     'natural allies". However, the

responses of LEPC members to our survey suggest that, in most cases, these two groups

have not yet developed a strong relationship.  Environmentalists probably have not yet

"discovered" the LEPCs and the local committees have apparently made few if any efforts to

work with these groups to gather or disseminate information.

There is some evidence that aggressively pursuing contacts between environmental groups

and the LEPCs might be beneficial to  both parties. In the first place, LEPC members who

describe contact as more frequent are more likely to describe those contacts as cooperative

rather than confrontational (r = .51; p< .0001), and those who see contacts as more frequent

are also more likely to say that they view local environmental activists as representative of

the general public in their community (r = 21; p<.0001).  This suggests that more frequent

contact might produce better working relationships, give the LEPCs an additional link to the

public, and provide environmental groups with access to information and resources avail-

able to the LEPCs.

As an additional effort to assess member perception of their organization's external re-

lations, we asked them to rate the amount and quality of coverage that the LEPC receives

from television, radio, and newspapers in their jurisdiction. The responses are summarized

in Figure 8.  Majorities rated all three types  of coverage as insufficient and substantial per-

centages evaluated the quality of the  coverage as less than adequate.  Members were most

critical of television coverage and least critical of newspapers. Apparently, most LEPC

members feel that their organization's work is not given the attention that it deserves from

the media. If they are correct, this fact could partially explain the low level of citizen interest

in learning about hazardous materials issues suggested by the small number of requests for

Title III  information reported  by the LEPC chairs.

                                       Figure 8

                    Members' Views of Madia Coverage of LEPC Affairs
                                           PERCENT OF MEMBERS WHO:
                                       represented "poor-" f3 represented "fair," and 5
 LEPC members in different states differ considerably in their assessment of media coverage.

 Figure 9 shows this by comparing their ratings of the quality arid quantity of coverage of the

 LEPC. To simplify presentation, we averaged the percentages rating the three media re-

 ferred to in Figure 8 to create an overall media rating. Alabama and Louisiana stand out in

 Figure 9 for having the least dissatisfied LEPC members while California and Rhode Island's

 members were by far the most dissatisfied with the amount and quality of coverage.

 Alabama and Louisiana's position may be explained by the fact that they contain so many

 small towns in which media personnel are personally known to the LEPC members  and in

 which local media are often hungry for stories of local  interest to cover. We can speculate

 that California's situation reflects the regional organization of the LEPCs in that this removal

 of the committees from the local level discourages  local media from considering its actions

 as part of "their" beat. We cannot explain Rhode Island's situation from what we know about

the state, but it may reflect the failure of LEPCs composed so heavily of emergency

responders to effectively encourage press coverage or a general tendency for responders

to see the press as hostile.
                                     Figure 9

              Members' Views of Media Coverage of LEPC Affairs by State

SAYING MEDIA                              STATE
COVERAGE IS:      AL    CA    LA    MD    MO    NY    Rl     UT    WA   Wl
Less than
"enough"*   '       60%   92%  62%  74%   72% ,  75%   82%  63%  74%  66%

Less than
"fair""             36%   64%  37%  51%   48%   49%   67%  51%  50%  44%
   Based on a five-point scale in which 1 represented "too little", 3 represented "enough"
   and 5 represented "too much" coverage from each of three major media.
** Based on a five-point scale in which 1 represented "poor", 3 represented "fair" and 5 re-
   presented "good" quality of coverage from each of three major media.
                Characteristics and Orientations of LEPC Members

Since the views of their members will profoundly influence the functioning of the LEPCs it is

important to examine member opinions, attitudes, and role definitions. We begin by looking

at their backgrounds and move on to examine their perceptions and orientations toward the

tasks of the LEPC.

  Who are the LEPC Members and Whom do they Represent?

  SARA Title III mandates that the LEPCs be drawn from several constituent groups in order
  to provide broad-based representation of the community on the committees and in the hope
  of improving risk communication by ensuring that the committees have strong links to the
  community. If LEPC members are sufficiently diverse, there is a greater chance that the plan
  will reflect community concerns and that there will exist a better set of "built-in" communi-
  cation lines through which information about the plan can be disseminated to the commu-
  nity. How well have these goals been realized?

 Responses from the 1,468 LEPC members who completed our questionnaire indicate that the
 average member had served on the LEPC for one year, that committee members are 86%
 male, and that 64% of members are between the ages of 30 and 50.  Eighty three percent
 of them had attended college, 56%  had a college degree and 32% had graduate education.
 Fifty seven percent described their  work as being in the public sector (government) while
 36%  were employed in the private sector (business) and the remainder worked in the vol-
 unteer sector for organizations like  the American Red Cross, charity hospitals, etc. Occu-
 pationally, 26% were in fields that qualified them as emergency responders (law
 enforcement, fire protection,  rescue squad, etc.), 24% were business managers or owners,
 13%  public administrators, 2% elected officials, 9% were in the health care field, and 3%
 worked in the media.  A wide range of other occupations are also represented in smaller
 numbers. This profile suggests that LEPC  members are a diverse group in some respects,
 but it also indicates that they are not a cross section of the general public of their commu-
 nities. They are far more likely to be male, well educated, professional, and affiliated with
 government and emergency response organizations than the "average citizen".

Their nominal backgrounds, however, are only a crude indicator of the perspectives and in-
terests they represent in their actions on the LEPC.  We asked the members to tell us if they

felt that they had been appointed to the local committee because of their affiliation with any

of several groups. Figure 10 summarizes their responses by reducing the groups to five

categories.  "Watchdog groups" include those that may be expected to define the interests

of the community differently than government and business groups - environmental, com-

munity organizations and the media.  Only 2% of our respondents saw their membership on

the LEPC as a product of affiliation with an environmental group while less than 4% saw

themselves as representatives of the media and less than 4% identified with community or-

ganizations. The "independent" group, who did not feel that their appointment was associ-

ated with membership in any of the types of groups we listed for them, came primarily from

business and government and add very little to the total number of actual "watchdog"

            Figure 10

Group Affiliations of LEPC Members*

          % OF ALL MEMBERS
Emergency responders
Government officials
Business and industry
"Watchdog" groups
 'Based on members' assessment of the reason for their appointment.

 Examining the response of LEPC chairs alone to this question shows that chairs are even

 less likely to have been appointed because of their affiliation with a "watchdog" group while

 almost half identified their affiliation with government as the source of their appointment.


 Again, aggregate analysis of members' responses conceals a good deal of variation among

 the states. Figure 11 compares representation of the five groups described above among

 each states' LEPC members. With one exception, it lists the states in order of the percent

 of members who represent emergency responders.  The states! are then grouped to reflect

 the four patterns of membership distribution that are evident.

 The first pattern is one in which the largest single group of LEFปC members are emergency

 responders and the second largest group is from business and industry.  Rhode Island is the

 clearest example of this type, as almost half (49%) of that state's LEPC members who re-

 sponded to our study were responders. At the same time, Rhode Island has a lower per-

 centage of both government officials and watchdog members on their  LEPCs than any other

 state in our sample. Missouri approximates this  model  of organization with a relatively high

 number of emergency responders (39%) and the second lowest percentages of both gov-

 ernment officials and watchdog groups in the  sample. The state of Washington provides a

third example of this pattern. Alabama and Louisiana present & second pattern by dividing

the bulk of their LEPC positions between responders and government officials.

The next four states in the list divide the majority of their seats between responders and

 government officials, but give government officials the larger number of positions.  California

 stands out in this group, in that it has the highest percentage of watchdog group members

(22%) while having the second  highest proportion of public officials (44%) and the lowest

representation of business and  industry of any state in the sample. This "public interest"

model ;of organization probably  reflects the degree to  which the "environmental movement"

is mobilized and the environment is regarded  as a valid political  issue in California.


                                                         !                 29

                                    Figure 11

                    Group Affiliations of LEPC Members, By State*
'Based on members' assessments of the reason for their appointment.
Wisconsin is also noteworthy in this group for having the most nearly balanced represen-

tation of the five groups on its LEPCs.  This may be a reflection of the state's progressive


  Utah presents a fourth pattern, in that it has the highest representation of business and in-

  dustry and the second lowest representation of emergency responders of any of the ten

  states. One might h,ave predicted this reliance on business and government personnel from

  knowledge of the active role that business tends to play in Utah politics.
 How tfo LEPC Members Define Their Mission?

 Answers to the open-ended question about the major purpose of the LEPC reported above

 suggest that members see the technical sufficiency of the response plan as the main focus

 of their organizations.  They show little sign of moving to a more active role in risk commu-

 nication in the wake of having their plans accepted by their states.  This impression is rein-

 forced by  their responses to our question about how much time they devote to each of

 several tasks in an average month. Figure  12 presents the patterns. Members report giving

 significantly less time to outreach efforts (informing the public of hazardous materials issues

 and seeking public input) than to more narrowly focused planning and'capacity building ac-

tivities. One explanation of this may.be that LEPC members se
                                     Figure 12

                         LEPC Members' Allocation of Time

                                    AVERAGE HOURS PER MONTH ALLOCATED BY:

        ACTIVITY                        ALL MEMBERS*     CHAIRS ONLY
Studying hazardous materials issues
Gathering information
Attending LEPC meetings
Hazmat response training
Evaluating information
Informing the public
Seeking public input for the planning process
•Including the LEPC chairs.
This pattern of time allocations stands in stark contrast to the members' answers to our

question about the value of public input  in  evaluating and updating the response plan. Forty

seven percent indicated that such input  was "very important" while 43% rated it as "some-

what important" and only 9% labeled it as "not very important".  Perhaps members were

only giving what they considered to be the "politically correct" answer to this question and

do not actually see citizen  participation as crucial.  However, it is also possible that mem-

bers do value citizen input but do not know how to go about securing it in practice.

Interestingly, LEPC chairs were /ess likely to say that citizen input was valuable to the plan-

ning process.  Only 38% rated it as "very important" while 48% said it was "somewhat im-

portant" and 14%  said that citizen involvement was "not very important". Given the crucial

role of LEPC chairs in directing the committees' activities and setting the tone of their work,

 this relatively low commitment to citizen participation on the part of the committees' leaders

 may explain why so little effort goes into seeking citizen input.

 A state-by-state analysis reveals little geographic variation in lime allocation. In no state do

 members report spending an average of more than one hour a month on seeking public in-

 put. Rhode Island is tied with Missouri for the lowest average at .2 of an hour.per member,

 per month. This is noteworthy since these two states are similar in that they have a heavy

 representation of emergency responders on their LEPCs and the fewest watchdog and public

 official members. By contrast, California and Maryland are distinctive for their reliance on

 government officials and significant representation of watchdog groups.  However, they do

 not stand out in their efforts to seek public involvement. In fact, it is in Alabama  that we find

 the highest percentage of members (65%) saying that citizen involvement in the planning

 process is "very important", and the  largest  amount of members' time allocated  to both

 seeking public input (.9 hrs.) and  informing the public (1.1 hrs.) each month.  Nothing in the

 group affiliations of Alabama's LEPC members reported in Figure 11 suggests an  explanation

 of this interest in citizen involvement. Since Alabama divides the  state into  more Title  III

 planning districts than most, its LEPCs function at a very local level. As a result, we can

 speculate that committee members may feel a stronger personal responsibility for the safety

 of their districts than in states  with larger jurisdictions for the LEPCs.  This line of reasoning

 is consistent with our earlier observation that Alabama is a state in which  a fairly high pro-

 portion of members saw public education as a major future goal for their LEPC.  Moreover,

 Louisiana is very similar to Alabama in organizing its LEPCs at a very local level, and it is

the state in which we find the second highest allocation of members' time to informing the

public and seeking public input.                             ]    ,

How do the Members Perceive Risk Communication?

The effectiveness with which the LEPCs communicate hazardous materials dangers to the

public will be heavily influenced by how the members understand the process of risk com-

munication.  Accordingly; we asked a series of questions that explored their perceptions in

this area.  First, we asked what the members thought was the most effective means for the

LEPC to use in getting nonemergency information to the public.  A solid majority (61%) said

they would rely on newspapers for this task. Eighteen percent would turn to television, 15%

to radio, and 5% to other media. The preference for newspapers may reflect an awareness

of the ability of this medium to communicate detailed information in a nonsensationalist

manner.  However, this depth of nev/spaper coverage comes at the expense of breath and

speed of coverage. If the LEPCs are to reach large numbers of the public quickly with basic

information, they will  need to rely on broadcast media to a greater extent than the members

seem to realize.

We next asked members to rate the importance of including certain types of information in

news stories about nonemergency hazardous materials situations. The responses reported

in Figure 13 indicate that LEPC  members  have  a clear preference for communications that

focus on the more immediate and technical aspects of a situation and are less interested in

seeing background issues  addressed.  The problem with this approach is that it reduces the

possibility of a proactive stance toward hazardous  materials dangers in  which the commu-

nity debates the conditions leading to a risk and may choose to take actions to reduce the

risk rather than just planning to react to an emergency when it arises.

                                       Figure 13

                    Members' Evaluation of the Priority to b& Given to
          Possible Content of Nonemergency Hazardous Materials News Coverage

          q,,R,prT                          MEAN PRIORITY      % MEMBERS
          SUBJECT                              RATING'         RATING'HIGH"
Possible health effects of an accident
Provisions of response plan
Likelihood of an accident
Statements of public officials
Possible causes of an accident
Statements from the business involved
Statements of environmental groups
Political controversy about the hazardous situation
 'Based on a five-point scale in which 5 represents "high" and 1 represents "low/
 How Do LEPC Members See Environmental Issues in Their Communities?

 LEPC members' attitudes toward risk communication may be heavily influenced by their

 perceptions of both how much public interest there is in environmental issues and how re-

 sponsible environmental groups in the area are. Perceptions cif public interest in environ-

 mental issues may be a double edged sword.  Low levels of public interest may be viewed

 as an excuse for inactivity in the area of risk communication. However, perceived low levels

 of public interest couid be used to justify extraordinary efforts to inform and educate the

 public and may actually facilitate outreach by leading members to believe that sharing in-

formation with the community will not bring unwanted political controversy. Similarly, if en-

vironmental groups are perceived as responsible and representative, members should be

more willing to include concerned citizens in the planning process.

When asked how important an issue environmental concern was in their community, 34%

of our respondents said it was a "major issue", 39% said that it was an "important issue" and

27% labeled it as a "minor issue". We also asked if members regarded "those who are most

vocal in their concern  about environmental issues" in their community as an unrepresen-

tative minority or a cross section of the public. The members were evenly divided in this,

with 50% giving each answer. At the state level, the maximum proportion of LEPC members

saying that environmental groups are a crossection of the public is 54%  in Utah and the

minimum level of confidence in environmentalists is found in Missouri with 36% seeing them

as representative. Finally, we asked members to gauge the accuracy of their own percep-

tions of the content and level of public environmental concern and activism. In response,

37% expressed relatively high confidence in the accuracy of their perceptions; 43%  ex-

pressed moderate confidence and 21% expressed relatively low confidence, indicating that

LEPC members feel relatively well-connected  to environmental issues in their communities.

These  results present  a picture of a group of people who are very diverse in their views of

environmental issues but are by no means overpowered by the sense that they are entrusted

with responsibility for  an issue that  dominates their community, nor are they overly con-

cerned about opposition or interference from a highly active and irresponsible environ-

mental movement. In  this regard, it is instructive to note that Rhode Island is both the state

in which the largest proportion of LEPC members see the environment as a major issue for

the public and the state in which members are least satisfied with press  coverage and most

reluctant to actively involve  the public in the planning process.

 Divisions Within the LEPCs                             \

 What difference does it  make that different groups are represented on the LEPCs?  Do dif-

 ferent groups bring different perspectives to LEPC issues? Are they likely to vote differently

 if issues are put to a vote in the organization?  We addressed these questions by comparing

 the responses of the five groups identified in our earlier discussion of representation. Figure

 14 shows, how each of the groups responded to a number of the questions examined above.

 The important point to note about the table is that the groups generally differ very little in

 their perceptions and judgements on these issues. Each of the figures-presented in the table

 is drawn from a larger analysis in which no consistent pattern of statistically significant dif-

 ferences was found among the five groups' answers to these questions. Especially signif-

 icant is the fact that the  "watchdog" group generally does  not stand out from the other

groups in its responses  to any of the questions in our study. Where there  are differences,

the responses of the watchdog group members are often marginally more  optimistic and

less critical than the responses of the other groups. (An exception to this is found in the fact

that watchdog members are less likely to feel that the public has confidence in the LEPC's

ability to protect its interest.)

                                      Figure 14

             Attitudes and Perceptions of Different Groups of LEPC Members
                MEMBERSHIP GROUP
Rates communication with
  govt. as excellent

Rates communication with
  the public as excellent

Rates communication with
  environ, gps. as excellent

Rates relations with
  the media as excellent

Rates cooperation from
  business as excellent

Sees contact with environ.
  gps. as cooperative

Sees LEPCs public
  visibility as good

Sees public confidence
  in LEPC as good

Rates citizen input to
  planning  as important

Describes local environ-
  mental concern as high

Sees local environmental-
  ists as representative of
  the public
   26%      23%     35%      32%     31%
   11%       7%
11%     10%      14%
                      10%      14%     16%
   22%      15%     25%      38%     17%
   16%      25%     20%      18%
   11%      10%      11%      13%     ' 11%
   21%      21%     21%      25%      28%
   31%      26%     31%      22%      36%
   52%      38%     44%      49%      55%
  32%      33%     40%      37%      34%
  46%      41%     53%      51%      45%
This generally high level of agreement among LEPC members from different groups may be

viewed as a sign of effective groups who-waste little time in building consensus and can get

things done.  However, it may also be viewed as a symptom of a flawed selection process

in which only those members of watchdog groups who will not make waves are recruited for


 the local planning committees. Selecting watchdog members by this criterion may have fa-

 cilitated assembling the response plans on time, but it is quite inappropriate for LEPCs that

 are seeking to enter a more proactive stage of risk communication. Having less critical

 watchdog members may prevent the committees from developing the public credibility they

 will need to get citizens' full cooperation during an emergency, and understanding after-

 wards. It may also prevent consideration within the LEPC of public disclosures which could

 result in open debate of environmental risks that may produce decisions to reduce those

 risks rather than simply respond to disasters.
 LEPC Members' Use of Training Materials
What training materials have LEPC members used and what dp they feel they need to-do

their job? Figure 15^shows the reported use of selected publications and Figure 16 indicates

how likely it was that members would use different types of prospective training and

source materials if they were available.
Figure 15 indicates that only NRT-1 has received wide circulation among the LEPC members

who responded to our survey. But it also shows that members who receive useful publica-

tions are very likely to read them since there is little difference between the percentage who

reported receiving materials and the percentage who claim to have read them.

                                     Figure 15
                     LEPC Members' Use of Selected Publications
•Perhaps members read others' copies.
                                                   % OF ALL MEMBERS WHO HAVE:
Hazardous Materials Planning Guide (NRT-1)
Tech. Guidance for Hazards Analysis (EPA)
It's Not Over in October (EPA)
Explaining Environmental Risk (EPA)
Tech. Assist. Bulletin #4 (EPA)
In Figure 16 the items are listed in the order of the average interest score given to them by
members. This ranking shows no clear preference for any given type of aids since technical
and risk communication  materials are interspersed in the ordered list.  It is noteworthy that
the four items on the list involving risk communication rather than technical aspects of
planning ranked second, fourth, fifth and sixth out of 12 in members' expressions of interest.
This suggests that the members are both aware of their  limited knowledge of how to com-
municate with the public and open to  learning more about this task. However, it is also
worth noting that less than half of the members said they were likely or very likely to  use
materials directed at nonemergency risk communication or managing community right-to-
know information, even though these were areas in which they had earlier indicated they felt
least competent.

The  responses shown in Figure 16  should be interpreted in light of the wording of our
question. We asked members to evaluate potential materials as if only a few could be
produced due to scarcity of resources. The answers, then, should  reflect the relative, rather

than the absolute, importance of materials.  This means that members may use most or all

of the materials mentioned if they are actually provided, but see the first few as deserving

a higher priority.
                                     Figure 16

              Likelihood That Members Would Use Prospective Materials
Catalog of hazardous materials planning resources
Emergency risk communication with the public
Evacuation and in-place sheltering information
How to use planning process to prevent accidents
How to manage right-to-know information
Nonemergency risk communication with the public
Coordinating spill prevention with the plan
Building DOT route planning into the plan
Coordinating OSHA requirements with response plan
Coordinating fed. facilities planning with the plan
Coordinating nuclear plant plans with the plan
Coordinating earthquake planning with the plan
*On a five-point scale in which 5 represents "very likely

3.4 "
2.1 •
" and 1

! 35%
1 18%
represents '
'not likely" to use.

                               CASE STUDIES


We sought to identify and examine risk communication activities being undertaken by inno-

vative LEPCs and other community-based organizations through a series of case studies.

The objective was to gather information and suggestions that other communities could use

when formulating their risk communication  programs. We intend that the results of the case

studies be interpreted in conjunction with the results of the more broadly-based information

generated by the survey of LEPCs and their members.

                              Case Study Selection

In keeping with the objective of the case studies, the communities were not selected ran-

domly, but on the basis of preliminary information that the LEPC or some other organization

in the community was engaged in innovative risk communication activity.  An important

source of information for selecting the case  studies were the EPA regional offices and the

SERCs. Before the distribution of the questionnaire to LEPCs, the investigators contacted

the EPA regional offices and SERCs for each of the ten states in which the questionnaires

were to be distributed.  This contact was made to inform these offices of the forthcoming

mailing to all of the LEPCs in each of these states, but also to ask whether our contacts at

these offices were aware of  any LEPCs or other community-based organizations that were

engaged in risk communication directed to the general public. We also spoke with a number

of people outside government, Including members of citizens' groups.



 During the course of these conversations we obtained very few suggestions, although

 had the opportunity to discuss our interest with many persons  intimately familiar with activ-

 ities in their area. Our contacts were not certain  of the reasons for the apparent lack of risk

 communication activity, but possible reasons they mentioned included lack of financial

 sources, a focus by many LEPCs upon the technical aspects of hazards analysis and

 gency preparedness, a lack of familiarity with risk communication techniques, and widely

 varying attitudes regarding the degree to which LEPCs should actively reach out to their

 community (as compared to being a passive repository of hazardous materials information).

 Following our discussions with the EPA regional offices, SERCs, and others, we contacted

 the organizations that had been suggested to us.  In several instances the chair told us that

 the LEPC was not involved in  any significant risk communication efforts. In those instances

 where our preliminary information regarding risk communication activity proved to be accu-

 rate, we requested permission to meet with the key players in the formulation and execution

 of the risk communication programs so that we could learn the details regarding their efforts.


 As a result of these discussions,  arrangements were made to  conduct full-fledged case

 studies in the following locations:


 •   St. James Parish, Louisiana (population about  25,000; a heiavily industrialized rural area

    with 19 large facilities reporting to the LEPC);             !

•   El Paso County, Colorado (population just under 400,000; a rural county incorporating a

    mid-sized city);3 and
Note that we had to resort to a case study location outside the ten states in which our survey was

conducted, owing to the extreme difficulty of identifying suitable communities within these ten states.

•   Contra Costa County, California (population about 750,000; a largely urbanized county

    incorporating several cities).

In each of these states, we were also able to develop subsidiary case studies involving other

LEPCs or community organizations, specifically the St. Charles Parish LEPC in Louisiana, the

City of Colorado Springs LEPC, the Barren Park Association (a community group) in Palo

Alto, California, and Citizens for a Better Environment (an environmental group) in San

Francisco.  In the case of Colorado, the interests and activities of the county and city LEPCs

overlapped to the point where they were ultimately treated as a single case study.

                                   Field Research

During April and May, 1989, we visited each of the case study communities. Two team

members went to each of the three primary communities, and stayed for two-and-a-half days

in each community.  Before these visits, we made arrangements to meet with the organizers

of the risk communication efforts, as v/ell as with some key opinion mediators in the com-

munity and others who were in a position to be familiar with the nature of the community  and

its concerns with regard to hazardous materials.

We conducted in depth interviews of a total of 30 persons, including three who were inter-

viewed by telephone. The purposes of these discussions were: (1) to obtain detailed infor-

mation regarding the risk communication programs (along with copies of any materials that

had been distributed), (2) to solicit the comments and suggestions of the risk communicators

based upon their experiences, (3) to become familiar generally with the communities in

which the risk communication  efforts were carried out, and (4) to obtain the names and  ad-

dresses of a sample of opinion leaders in each community, to whom the case study  ques-

tionnaire could be distributed.


                                     Case Study Questionnaire
    I                                                             ,
        A written questionnaire was distributed by mail in each of the case study communities fol-
 .   ;    lowing the research team's visit.  The purpose of the questionnaire was to provide informa-
        tion about risk communication issues such as the level of concern in the communities
        regarding hazardous materials, the level of awareness regarding the hazardous materials
    ,    emergency plans, and the sources that residents relied on for information on hazardous
    ;    materials.
    :                                                             r
    j   The questionnaires  were sent to a group of opinion mediators culled from lists of local poli-
       tical officeholders and members of community service groups, neighborhood organizations,
it   I   environmental groups, parent-teacher organizations, health organizations, and the business
    :   community.  Opinion mediators were selected as recipients of the questionnaire because it
       could reasonably be expected that information regarding many of the issues addressed has
       not yet been widely  circulated among the general public. Moreover, we reasoned that since
 '_.   I                                                             i
       these persons could play a vital role in distributing hazardous materials information to the
       community their  level  of knowledge was of interest in itself.
       A total of 221 questionnaires were mailed; this was a large enough sample to provide
       worthwhile information, while staying within the budgetary constraints for this phase of the
       project.  In order to encourage response, a follow-up mailing was sent to non-respondents
       approximately one month after the original mailing.  A copy of the  case study questionnaire
       (which was essentially the same for each community, although with a different cover) is in-
       eluded in Appendix B.

                             FINDINGS  & DISCUSSION

 Given the purpose and nature of these case studies, it is neither appropriate nor possible to
 assess in a definitive way the effectiveness of the particular risk communication activities
 carried out  in each of the case study communities.  We can, however, describe these risk
 communication efforts, including comments regarding some of the factors that the
 organizers had to consider, and some of the difficulties they encountered. We can also
 summarize  points made  during our interviews that may be of interest to risk communicators
 in other communities.  Finally, we can present a summary of the responses to the case study
 questionnaires. Although these were distributed to a relatively small number of persons, the
 responses to mam :>f the questions are so  consistent that there is little reason to believe
 that a larger sample would  have produced different conclusions. Our findings arguably shed
 some light on the current situation in these communities, and - perhaps most  important for
 the future - help us to identify the sources to which citizens may turn for hazardous materials
 risk information.

                           Risk Communication Activities

 The risk communication activities discussed below were carried out by LEPCs, local public
 agencies  (such as the health department and the department of emergency preparedness),
 citizen groups, environmental groups, and industry. In most instances the local public
 agencies worked  in collaboration with the LEPC; this is frequently the case because the
 LEPCs themselves do not generally have an operating budget or paid staff, and therefore
 often rely on other organizations to execute - or assist with the execution of - risk commu-
 nication efforts. Citizen groups concerned with hazardous materials issues, as well as in-
 dustry representatives, also conducted some of the activities described below; these efforts,
 too. were  sometimes carried out in collaboration with the LEPC. Since we are interested
 primarily in the techniques  used, rather than the organizations involved, most of these ac-
tivities are described without regard for whether they were carried  out by an LEPC in its own

  right, a collaborating public agency, a citizen group, or industry.  Most of these activities

  could be carried out by any LEPC or other community-based organization with the inclination

  and resources to do so.  The communication efforts discussed below fall into four categories:

  (1) publications, press releases, and videotapes, (2) public presentations and forums. (3) ef-

  forts to communicate through schools and libraries, and (4) providing for public access to

  hazardous materials information.
                                                         j    •

  We will note at the outset that very little of what we saw in the case studies qualifies as risk

  communication  in a strict sense.  The information communicated tended to focus on matters

  such as the existence of the emergency response plan, the procedure's for obtaining infor-

  mation, and what to do in an  emergency. Topics such, as the nature  of the risks faced and

 the probability of harm were not commonly addressed. Given that we chose to examine  '

 communities where special communication efforts were being made, we may reasonably

 assume that even less risk communication is being undertaken in most other communities.

 Publications, Press Releases, and Videotapes


 These types of materials prepared for distribution in the case study communities may be

 grouped into two broad categories: those providing general information regarding hazardous

 materials issues and emergency response, and those focused on the  particular community.

 LEPCs and other organizations interested in circulating the more general information have

 used materials prepared by the EPA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency

 (FEMA).  In some cases the materials have been made available to the public in a public

 office or library, while in other cases they have been distributed at public meetings, speaking

 engagements, or by mailing to selected audiences. Some communities distributed materials

 as originally produced; other communities adapted them.for local use. In Colorado, the El

 Paso County LEPC collaborated  with the county's Disaster Services Office to adapt a vide-

otape prepared by FEMA, and  broadcast it a number of times as part of a local cable tele-

vision station's public service program.  They also made copies of pamphlets and brochures
prepared by the EPA, sometimes with colorful cover sheets to attract attention.

Efforts also have been made to communicate community-specific information through publi-
cations, and this has been handled in a  variety of ways.  Press releases about the existence
and activities of the LEPC have sometimes been prepared as a starting point. Although this
is not risk information per se, it may play a role in establishing the LEPC as a credible source
of risk information.  Two points mentioned with  regard to press releases during these case
studies are that (1) information about the activities of the LEPC is often not regarded as
newsworthy, and (2) detailed press releases should be accompanied by a summary, espe-
cially in those areas where the reporters are not likely to be environmental specialists.

Reports, brochures, pamphlets, and videotapes with a local focus have also been produced
by LEPCs  and other organizations.  The St. James Parish LEPC, in cooperation with the
parish's Department of Emergency Preparedness, distributed a brochure to every home in
the Parish, outlining the nature of the emergency response  plans, and defining basic emer-
gency response terms such as "shelter  in place." In cooperation with local industry, the
LEPC-also produced a videotape  about local industry, and a series of one-page descriptions
of each  of the 19 industrial facilities in the Parish.

Public Presentations and Forums

An approach commonly mentioned during the case studies  was to make presentations to
other organizations, such as local service clubs and neighborhood groups. This was gen-
erally seen as an effective way to get information to citizens who are involved in the com-
munity,  and who can then pass along information to their own contacts in the community.
Another effect of these presentations is to establish a relationship between the audience and
the speaker. This relationship can be important when organizing public forums dedicated
to hazardous materials risk issues because it makes the message more forceful.

  Public focums were conducted in both the primary and some of the secondary case study

  communities, with widely varying levels of attendance.  Organizers and attendees of these

  forums offered several observations. First, as mentioned above with respect to speaking

  engagements, it is important to build a base of trust before the forum is held, in order to

  encourage participation at the forum. One approach that may be effective is to have the fo-

  rum sponsored by a number of different organizations. Theoretically, of course, LEPCs are

  made up of representatives of many different segments of the community; but it may be im-

  portant  in any given case for those various segments to  be directly involved in the forum,

  at least  to the point where the leaders of other organizations enthusiastically encourage their

  members to participate. In this way there is a chance to avoid an "us-them" attitude that

  may keep  members of the community away.
 As for the forum itself, a point made by organizers and attendees is that there should be a

 minimum of technical information and a maximum of opportunity for attendees to ask

 questions.  An attendee of one forum said that the information provided consisted largely of

 the names of chemicals and the quantities present at facilities, which meant nothing to  him.

 Questions from attendees permit the forum to focus on issues that concern the community,

 rather than  information that the organizers think is important.

 Schools and Libraries


 Efforts have been made in all three of the  primary case study communities to work with

 schools and libraries to assist with the dissemination of risk information.  One approach has

 been to make annual presentations at school assemblies, although these have tended to

focus more on evacuation plans than on the  nature of hazardous materials risk.  Another

approach has been to make presentations, particularly in science classes, regarding haz-

ardous materials and the risks associated  with them.

Efforts have also been made to place hazardous materials risk information in the libraries in
these communities. The volume of information varies widely, although the local emergency
response plan has generally been included.  Common problems with putting this material in
the library include keeping the information current, making it easy for interested persons to
find, and making the materials easy to understand. Library visits in the case study commu-
nities showed that the materials, while useful in some cases, were quite difficult to find.  If
such material is included in a library, it should be cross-referenced  to a variety of terms -
such as Hazardous materials, chemicals, risk, pollution, environment, right-to-know, SARA,
Title III, and local emergency planning committee.  The availability of the information might
also be advertised on  bulletin boards, newsletters, or circulars utilized by the library.  In
order to make the information easy to understand, it may be necessary to include, for ex-
ample, a lay person's guide to the information contained on an MSDS, and a straightforward
explanation of the potential health effects of the hazardous materials actually present.in the

Public Access to Hazardous Materials Information

A variety of approaches have been taken  by the case study communities to the organization
and availability of the hazardous materials information obtained by the LEPC.  In some cases
it is computerized, in others it is on hard copy. It  is stored in a variety of public offices, most
commonly the fire department or the  emergency planning office. The existence and avail-
ability of this information have not been advertised widely, and there have typically been
few, if any, requests for access to the information.

                     Recommendations of Risk Communicators

In the course of the interviews with the  persons most directly involved with organizing and
implementing risk communication activities in the case study communities, several points
were raised  repeatedly. Not all of these ideas were applied in all of the communities, but

   there was substantia, agreement as ,o many of these points, even among risk communica-
   tors operating in significant,* different communities. We have consoHda.ed these points
   under the four headings below, and include them in this report for consideration by LEPCs
   and other organizations faced with  deciding whether and how to develop a risk communi-
   cation program.  Although we cannot comment definitively, we think they make sense, based
   on our research so far.

  Communicate Risk Information

  We found that there is by no means agreement among the possessors of hazardous materi-
  als risk information as to whether they shou.d communicate this risk information to
  citizens.  Many persons apparent.y  beiieve that it is best not to ,et citizens know about the
  risks to which they are exposed because such information will only cause counterproductive
 panic.  However,  others we interviewed feit strongiy that anxieties are not caimed by cov-
 ering up the existence of hazardous  materiais risk, and that we create a much  more fright-
 ening and difficult situation by withhoiding information than by telling the truth.  As one
 group actively invo.ved in risk communication told us, it is important to overcome the atti-
 tude  among many officials that the community is to be manipulated, and that peopie  should
 not be kept informed about hazardous materials risk.

 Communicate Risk Information  Early

 A point made with regard to relations between risk communicators and the public is that it

•  To the extent that this project is focused specifica.ly on LEPCs. we are rea.ly concerned with two
  pre/iminary risk communication issues:  (1, do members believe, as a general proposition, that risk
 - communication is important and shou.d be undertaken; (2) do members believe that LEPCs shou.d
  take on risk communication responsible,  Our research so far indicates ..here is substan.ia, disa-
  greement on both of these questions.

is important to open the lines of communication as early as possible.4 Regardless of'the
communicator's expertise or intentions, waiting for an emergency to occur puts the com-
municator at a tremendous disadvantage. Knowing the community and establishing re-
lations with various segments of it before an accident occurs builds a base of trust that can
assist one in becoming a more effective risk communicator.  It may also secure public input
to the planning process, which may provide good ideas on how to improve the response

Communicate With and Through Existing Organizations

A recurring theme during our discussions in the case  study communities was the importance
of meeting with a variety of organizations in the community in order to build trust, and to
utilize those organizations as a conduit for information to their members. This approach may
be more cumbersome and time consuming than announcements  in the newspaper or direct
mail, but it was generally regarded as more effective.

Build Awareness by Starting Small
Organizations,that have tried to communicate risk information to the public, or to involve
citizens in the discussion of hazardous materials issues, have often been disappointed with
the level of public response. This has happened even in communities where the level of
awareness regarding environmental issues is high.  Some of the persons we spoke with
suggested that the reason for this difficulty might be that many citizens are intimidated by
the complexity of hazardous materials issues, and that a way to involve  more citizens is to
start small.  One group suggested that getting citizens involved with household  hazardous
waste issues may create a situation In which it is then possible to discuss other hazardous
ซ  A similar point is made in manuals prepared by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Pro-
  tection (undated) and by the University of Texas (1989).

 materials Issues. This approach starts with something citizens are directly involved with,

 and builds on that.  Another approach is to use a recycling and source reduction program

 as a way to raise environmental awareness and to build  a base for further education re-

 garding risks associated with hazardous materials. Similarly, by contacting small busi-

 nesses regarding hazardous materials issues, risk communicators may be creating a conduit

 for the dissemination of risk information to the general public, since many sma.ll businesses
 are family owned.
Another way to involve the public, suggested during our case studies, is to conduct a haz-

ardous  materials emergency response drill. Such a drill attracts media attention, educates

citizens as to what to do in an emergency, and focuses participants' attention on hazardous

materials  issues in a personal and direct way.  A drill can also help citizens and emergency

planners to evaluate the response plan.  For example, during an evacuation drill in Palo Alto,

California, officials discovered that citizens had no intention of leaving domestic animals

behind.  Whether there are enough vehicles and time to evacuate large dogs and ponies is

a good example of an issue that should be debated and resolved before, rather than during.

a hazardous materials emergency.
                         Case Study Questionnaire Results

We received responses from 104 of the individuals to whom questionnaires were mailed in

the Louisiana, Colorado, and California case study communities for an overall response rate

of 47 percent.  While this number of respondents does not permit us to make definitive

generalizations, there  are several reasons to think the results are of some value. In re-

sponse to most of the questions there are very strong patterns, which are consistent with the

Information we obtained while in the communities.  Moreover, with the exception of
questions 1 and 2,ป the responses  in all three communities clearly follow the same pattern.

Most of the information provided by the responses falls into two categories: (1) the level of
respondents' familiarity with hazardous materials issues, and (2) the sources of hazardous
materials information upon which they rely.  Because of the similarity in the responses from
the three communities, we have elected to analyze the respondents from all three commu-
nities as a single group that may be regarded as typical of opinion mediators in communities
tike those we studied.

Familiarity with Hazardous Materials Issues
One-third of the respondents reported that they are members of an organization that has
done something in the past two years to learn about  hazardous materials risks in their
community; these organizations  include environmental groups, neighborhood groups, and
service clubs (Question # 6).  Approximately the same number (28 percent) feel that they are
personally well-informed about what types of  hazardous materials emergencies are most
likely to occur in their community (# 3); yet only 11 percent feel that they now know what to
8 Responses to questions 1 and 2 (which inquired about the level of concern regarding hazardous
  materials issues) varied notably among the three communities.  In St. James Parish, respondents
  indicated they felt there was a very serious potential in their community for a variety of environ-
  mental problems related to hazardous materials. In Colorado Springs/El Paso County, respondents
  differed widely in their opinions, with a slight majority of the view that there was a 'somewhat seri-
  ous* potential for problems.  In Contra Costa County, respondents considered the potential for envi-
  ronmental problems relating to hazardous materials to be somewhat to very serious. The only
  consistency among the three communities is  that in each case the respondents thought other resi-
  dents of their community were concerned about these issues to roughly the same degree as the re-
  spondents themselves.


  do to protect themselves and their families if a major hazardous materials emergency oc-
  curred in their community (# 8^.

  A clear majority (64 percent) said that citizens have a legally established right to information
  about hazardous materials in their community (# 4); but only 30 percent are aware that an
  organization in their community has conducted a hazards analysis and developed an emer-
  gency response plan (# 10). When asked to identify the organization that developed the plan,
  most of the respondents mentioned an organization such as the fire department, the local
 emergency preparedness department, or, in the Contra Costa case study, the county's Haz-
 ardous Waste Commission (# 10).  The LEPC was mentioned by name only twice  in all the

 Given the makeup of the group to which the questionnaire was sent, it would be reasonable
 to expect that the general population is even less familiar with these issues.7 That is con-
 sistent with the respondents' perception of the level of awareness, on the part of the other
 residents, regarding the emergency response plan: one-third of respondents think that other
 residents are "not aware" of the plan's existence (i.e., score of 1 on a  scale of 1-5, with 5
 representing "highly aware") (# 10).

 Not surprisingly, given their own level of awareness,  nearly one-third of the respondents
 said they can't judge how confident they are that the emergency response plan is  adequate
•  Both references to the LEPC were in the Colorado case. The absence of reference to the LEPC is
   particularly understandable in the case of California, where the LEPCs serve large regions, and local
   agencies serve as "administering agencies.'

7   It may also be reasonable to expect, since these case studies were conducted in communities where
   special risk communication efforts have been made, that the overall level of awareness is lower in
  many other communities.

to protect the community in most hazardous materials emergencies. Of those who did ex-
press an opinion about the plan, 24 percent said they were not confident it was adequate;
only 7 percent of those expressing an opinion felt highly confident (# 10).

There is no indication that the respondents now know how to learn more about hazardous
materials issues in their community through any mechanism associated with Title III; only
16 percent have seen an explanation of the process by which citizens can learn about haz-
ardous materials risks in their area under Title Ill's community right-to-know provisions (#
12).  Two factors suggest, however, that there may be some chance that this level of
awareness can increase.  First, 72 percent of the respondents who have seen an explanation
of the process for obtaining hazardous materials information under Title III have made some
effort to share that information with others (# 12). Second, 76 percent of the respondents
said they would spend two hours studying the hazards analysis and emergency response
plan for their community; 71 percent said they would attend a two-hour public meeting to
address these issues; and 81 percent said they would spend 30 minutes a week reading
news articles or other materials to keep up-to-date on these issues. While these responses
may be overly optimistic, they suggest that there may indeed be an audience  willing to  in-
vest time in  increasing  their understanding of hazardous materials risks in their community.

Sources of Hazardous Materials Information

In all three case study communities respondents said they rely primarily on public agencies
for information about hazardous materials.  In the Louisiana and Colorado communities, re-
spondents ranked public agencies first, and personal contact with public officials second,
when asked where they would most likely turn for hazardous materials information; LEPCs,
the media, environmental groups, and community organizations were popular third choices
(#7).  In California, environmental groups were the first choice, but the relative position of the
other sources of information was  the same as in Louisiana and Colorado.  When asked an
open-ended  question about where they would turn for information about hazardous materials

 handled by a given firm in their community, respondents most frequently mentioned a local

 public agency such as the health, fire, or police department (#5).  Only four responses

 mentioned the LEPC by name. Even in a hazardous materials emergency, nearly 50 percent

 of the respondents indicated they would contact or await instructions from local agencies,

 such as fire, police, or health departments, while one-third indicated they would rely on the

 electronic media (#9).

 These results also indicate that respondents are In fact receiving hazardous materials ir-

 formation from local government agencies. These agencies were identified as the source

 of information more often than any other source by those respondents who (a) feel well-

 informed regarding the types of hazardous materials emergencies most likely to occur in

 their communities, (b) know what to do in a hazardous materials emergency, (c) have seen

 an explanation of how to get information under Title III, (d).are aware that an emergency
 response plan has  been developed (# 3, 8, 10, 12).           ;


                        SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


                                 LEPC SURVEY

This section  summarizes our findings from the survey of LEPCs and their  members. The

caveats discussed earlier in the text should be borne in mind.

•   Most LEPCs have made some provision for communicating risk information to the public

    (e.g., designating an office to disseminate information and a person to take responsibility

   for this office), but they have not aggressively tried to  inform citizens of the availability

   of this information.

•   Very few requests for Title III information have been received, with most coming from

    individual citizens and from community groups.

•   LEPCs typically have not been very aggressive in encouraging public participation in the

    planning process, with less than a majority undertaking on a frequent basis any of the

    procedures about which we asked.

•   LEPCs generally show no sign of shifting to a stance of greater public participation and

    more risk communicauon after the acceptance of their initial plans; to the contrary, most

    seem to be cutting back on the frequency of their meetings.

•   Most LEPC members (about two-thirds) view the maintenance of the plan as the primary

    purpose of their committee, once their initial plan has been approved; only a minority

    view risk communication to the public as the main purpose.

•   Most commonly cited as a major problem is the lack of funding or staff support, although

    a majority  of members do not agree on any single barrier to success.

•   In general, the LEPC members have a very positive view of the capacity of their organ-

    ization to achieve planning goals; however, they are significantly  less confident of their

    organization's capacity to communicate  with the public, to secure public input, and to

    win public confidence.

•   Most members feel that their organization has a good chance of responding effectively

    to requests for information and of improving community understanding of risk informa-

    tion; however, they are less confident that their organization will adequately inform the

    public of the plan's provisions, secure adequate citizen input for updating the plan, or

    stimulate public discussion of environmental issues.


 •  Most members feel that their organization fails to attract adequate coverage from the
    local media, and a significant number are dissatisfied with the quality of that coverage.

 •  LEPC members are not demographically representative of their communities: in general,
    they are more likely to be male, well-educated, and professional than the "average citi-
    zen." They are also more likely to work in the public sector.
 •  The  membership is roughly evenly divided among the categories of emergency
    responders, government officials, and business/industry representatives, with "watch-
    dog groups" (e.g., the  media, citizens' organizations, etc.) significantly less well repres-

•   LEPC chairs are more  likely to be government officials than to be members of other

•   While the vast majority (nine out of ten) of the members said that they feel citizen in-
    volvement in the planning process is important to the development of a good plan, LEPC
    chairs are  somewhat less convinced of the importance of citizen  input.

•   LEPC members are more likely to spend time on the technical aspects of planning than
    on informing the public or seeking public input to the planning process; the average
    member reports spending less than  an hour per month on each of the latter activities.
•   Most members say that newspapers are  likely to provide the most effective means of
    communicating non-emergency hazardous materials risk information.

•   Most members feel that, in a non-emergency situation, it is  most  important to commu-
    nicate information on health  hazards and the provisions of the emergency response
    plan;  few feel that it is important to communicate the statements of businesses and en-


    vironmental groups, or information regarding the political controversy associated with a
    hazardous situation.

•   Few members view environmental issues as being of major concern in their communi-
    ties, and even fewer see environmental groups as especially active.

•   Members are evenly divided in their assessment of the degree to which local environ-
    mental activists are representative of the general public.

•   A comparison of the responses of LEPC members who perceive themselves to represent
                                   {                        '                       t
    different groups (i.e., emergency responders, business, government, watchdog, and in-
    dependents) shows essentially no statistically significant  differences between them.

•   Watchdog group members are generally aff least as positive about the LEPC as are
    members of other groups.

                                 CASE STUDIES

This section summarizes our findings from the case studies.

The risk communication efforts in the  case study communities were carried out by a  variety
of organizations, including LEPCs, local public agencies, citizen groups, environmental
groups and industry. It appeared to us that these activities could be carried out by any LEPC
or other community-based organization with the inclination and resources to do so. In these
communities, however, the LEPCs did not have an operating budget-or staff specifically for
that organization, so collaboration with other local agencies or organizations was essential.

Very little of what we saw in the case  studies qualifies as risk communication in  a strict
sense; communications tended to focus on matters such as the existence of the  emergency

 response plan, the procedures for obtaining information, and what to do in an emergency.
 Communication efforts in the case study communities involved the following mechanisms:

 •   Publications, Press Releases, and Videotapes:  In some instances, communicators pre-
     sented general information regarding hazardous materials, using materials prepared at
     the national level by the EPA and FEMA. Community-specific information was also cir-
     culated via press releases, brochures, and videotapes with a local focus. While these
     materials sometimes provided important factual information relevant to the communi-
    ties, they rarely touched upon risk issues, such as the nature and extent of the hazard-
     ous materials risk to which residents in the communities are exposed.

 •    Public Presentations and Forums: Presentations to other organizations, such as local
    service clubs and neighborhood groups, were seen as a good way to get information to
    involved  citizens,  who may in turn pass that information to their contacts in the commu-
    nity.  Public forums were also held, with widely varying levels of attendance.  Some
    organizers emphasized the importance of building a base  of trust before the forum is
    held, and to have  the forum sponsored by a number of different organizations in the

•   Schools and Libraries:  Presentations have been made in  school assemblies (although
    these tended to focus more on evacuation plans than on the nature of hazardous mate-
    rials risk) and some classes, particularly science classes.  The threefold  challenge of
    making information available in libraries appears to be: (1) keeping the information cur-
    rent,  (2) making it  easy to find, and (3)  making the  materials easy to understand.

•   Public Access to Hazardous Materials Information: Information about hazardous mate-
    rials in the case study communities is sometimes on hardcopy and sometimes comput-
    erized, and is most commonly stored in the fire department or the emergency

    preparedness office. Its availability has not been widely advertised, and, consistent with
    the results of our larger survey, there have been few requests for access to it.

Risk communicators in the case study communities offered a number of recommendations,
which we think make sense:

•   Communicate Risk Information:  Several of the persons we spoke with felt strongly that
    anxieties are not calmed by covering up hazardous materials risk, and that it is important
    to overcome the attitude that the community should be manipulated by withholding risk

•   Communicate Risk Information Early: The importance of establishing credibility and
    trust in the community as early as possible was stressed.

•   Communicate With and Through Existing Organizations: Direct contact with a variety
    of organizations in the community was suggested as a way to build trust and to establish
    lines of communications with the members of those organizations.

•   Build Awareness by Starting Small:  To overcome citizens' intimidation by the com-
    plexity of hazardous materials issues, it was suggested that it may be helpful to en-
    courage  citizen involvement in issues such as household hazardous waste and
    recycling; that involvement may build a base for further education regarding risks asso-
    ciated  with hazardous materials.  Similarly, a hazardous materials emergency response
    drill may be a good way to involve and educate citizens regarding hazardous materials

The responses to the case study questionnaire may be summarized as follows:

•  Respondents' Familiarity with Hazardous Materials Issues

   •   One-third of the respondents are members of an organization that has made some

       effort in the past two years to learn about hazardous material risks in their com-


   -    Nearly one-third feel that they are personally well-informed about what types of

       hazardous materials emergencies are most likely to occur in their community, but

       only 11  percent fee! that they know what to do to protect themselves if an emergency
   -   64 percent are aware they have a legal right to hazardous materials information, but

      only 30 percent are aware that  an organization in their community has conducted a

      hazards analysis and developed an emergency response plan.

  -   Nearly one-third said they can't judge how confident they are that the emergency

      response plan in their community is adequate. Of those who did express an opinion,

      24 percent said they were not confident it was adequate, and only 7 percent felt

      highly confident it was adequate.


  •   Although the level of awareness regarding hazardous materials issues was not

      generally high, most respondents indicated they would be willing to invest their time

      in learning more.                                  |

  Sources of Hazardous Materials Information


  •   Local government agencies were most frequently selected as a potential and actual

     source of information about hazardous materials.  Environmental groups, particularly


       in California, were also frequently chosen. LEPCs, the media, and community or-
       ganizations were popular third choices. Overall, however, these respondents ap-
       pear to rely largely on local government agencies for hazardous materials


The data we gathered and the analyses we conducted during the first and second phases
of this project have, in addition to providing important facts about actual practice, provided
information relevant to a number of important questions, including:

•   Why should a community have a hazardous materials risk communication program?

•   What should be the role of the LEPC with regard to a hazardous materials risk commu-
    nication program?

•   What approach should be taken to develop a hazardous materials risk communication
    program and what elements should it contain?

•   Who should carry out a hazardous materials risk communication program?

•   What should be the relationship between a hazardous materials risk communication
    program and other risk communication programs already in existence in a community
    (such  as those concerned with communicating risk information about nuclear power
    plants or natural disasters)?

Decisions with regard to any of these questions need to be made  largely on a community-
by-community basis. While our comments below are intended to be of some use in those
discussions, we recognize that final decisions in any given community will depend on many


 :    factors unique to that community.  The recommendations that follow are based oniyin part

 :    on the results of our research in this study. They go beyond the specific research findings

     to draw on more general observations conducted during the research process, and to reflect

 .    our larger understanding of the dynamics surrounding  hazardous material issues and  risk

 .    communication. As such, these recommendations have not been validated by practice and

 \    can not be defended by specific data in all cases. Even so, we feel that they will stand up

 !    to test by implementation and hope that they will be taken seriously. While readers should

 |    recognize these limitations on our recommendations, it  is also important to keep in mind that

 I    they address issues that are relevant to many communities; that these issues are not now

 i.    being widely addressed (or. where  they are being addressed, that there is no dear consen-

 .   sus on how they should be resolved); and, finally, that it is important for communities to

 ;   address these issues, if they are to  design an effective response to chemical hazards.


.,   Why Should a Community Have a Hazardous Materials Risk Communication



 .   It is tempting in answering this question to point out that Title III is called The Emergency

 ;   Planning and Community Right to Know Act, and to couch discussion of hazardous materials

 j   risk communication programs in  terms of the requirements and.spirit of Title III.  But the

 !   requirements of Title ill regarding the provision of hazardous materials information to the

 ;   public can be fulfilled in a largely passive fashion. As for the spirit of the law, we have found

 I  that local policymakers responsible for managing limited resources typically look for more

   reason to create and fund a program  than simply to fulfill  legislative spirit or to show respect

 j  for abstract rights. These policymakers want to know specifically, what benefits and risks are

 !  associated with a hazardous materials risk communication program, and they are most likely

 i  to be impressed by benefits that can  be stated in practical terms. We suggest that the fol-

 ;  lowing are among the benefits that could flow from a hazardous materials risk communi-
   cation program.

•   Improve the technical content of the emergency response plan.

    By communicating with the public and involving citizens in the emergency planning
    process (in a manner more direct than having a "representative" committee undertake
    planning in private), the technical content of the plan may be strengthened. Citizens
    other than those on the LEPC may identify problems, as well as providing information
    and ideas, which the committee might otherwise fail to take into account.
         *                                                            4
•   Heighten citizen awareness and understanding of the plan.

    By communicating with the public about the nature and extent of the hazardous materi-
    als risks in their community (including the existence and provisions of the emergency
    response plan) before an emergency, there is a greater chance that citizens will be able
    to respond appropriately in the event of  an emergency. For example, citizens will have
    been told where to turn for reliable emergency information, what to do if they hear
    warning sirens, where to go and what routes to use if they are told to evacuate, how to
    respond to exposures that do occur, and how to conduct themselves if they are told to
    shelter in place. Even more fundamentally, perhaps, citizens will have been told that
    there are circumstances under which sheltering in place is the best thing to do. Without
    pre-emergency education on this point, it may be difficult for citizens to accept  that
    leaving an area is more dangerous than staying. The effectiveness of the emergency
    response plan  depends in part on resolving beforehand matters that cannot be  debated
    at the time of an emergency.

•   Increase the credibility and legitimacy of the plan.
    The idea behind the present structure of the LEPCs is, in part, that  a diverse, locally-
    based committee should be in a strong position to create a plan that will be responsive
    to local needs and well-received by the community. By communicating information about

      the planning process to a broader group of citizens, it might be expected that the plan

      would gain even greater legitimacy in their eyes. Furthermore, the plan's credibility is

      likely to depend heavily on the degree to which it addresses the concerns of the wider

      public, which may not be identical to those of LEPC members.

      Risk communication may also increase the public's sense of the legitimacy and impor-

     tance of the services provided by hazardous materials emergency planners and emer-

     gency responders.  In that sense it could be helpful to build the political support

     necessary to obtain adequate financial support for these activities and to fully implement

     the response plan.
     Stimulate discussion leading to risk reduction.
     If a risk communication program informs a substantial portion of the citizens In a com-

     munity regarding the nature and extent of hazardous materials risks, this heightened

     awareness may lead to greater efforts to reduce risks.


 •   Reduce the level of citizen 'outrage' following an emergency.

     Although this is a defensive point,  it may be important nonetheless.  Providing citizens

     before an emergency with information regarding the likelihood and nature of an accident

     may reduce the level of "outrage" (i.e., the dismay and anger that often follows an acci-

     dent), should it occur.'                                  '

Any discussion of the advantages of having an aggressive risk communication program

should recognize the likely arguments against such an effort, since most public officials and
ซ  Note that Peter Sandman uses the term 'outrage' in attempting to explain

  perceived and measured risk.
the difference between

industry representatives are acutely aware of what we might call the "risks of risk commu-

nication." Any organization advocating active risk communication may encounter one or

more of the following counter-arguments.

•   It could cause panic. Some public and private officials fear that citizens will overreact

    to information about the actual health risks they face from hazardous materials.

•   It could cause a political backlash. Public officials sometimes fear that learning of a

    hazardous situation will lead citizens to demand action that could cost a community a

    business or to blame political figures for letting the situation develop.

•   It could bring pressure on local businesses.  Some people fear that, once citizens know

    about a hazard, they will ask businesses to take steps to eliminate it  or they will lose

    their trust in the firms involved; the result may be competitive disadvantages for local

    businesses and possibly even plant closings.

While we cannot argue that there are no risks involved in communicating risk information,

we can  make two observations that are relevant to these concerns. First, those people to

whom we spoke in the course of our research who have had experience  communicating

risks to the public indicated that the public is generally able to understand the complexities

of hazardous materials situations and to make intelligent choices.  Second,  it is important to

distinguish between the interests of a community and the interests of individuals within that

community. The benefit to the community of being better able to reduce  risks or more ade-

quately to react to emergencies as a result of the distribution of risk information will gener-

ally outweigh any disadvantage that may come to individual officials or firms. Even in very

extreme cases, where large numbers of persons may be adversely affected by business

cutbacks that result from efforts to reduce chemical risks, it is the citizenry  who^must have

the right to choose between health risks and economic costs.


    What Should Be the Role of the LEPC With Regard to a Hazardous Materials Risk
   . Communication Program?

j    In discussing this question, we think it is worthwhile to emphasize a very important basic
i    point: LEPC is an abbreviation for local emergency planning committee.  Consistent with
    their name and the duties imposed upon them by Title III, LEPCs are expected to plan for
|    emergency response, but not actually to serve as emergency responders.  (Although many
    LEPC members are also emergency responders, when they sei-ve in that capacity, they are
    not acting as LEPC  members per se.)  The LEPC, as an organization, has no response ca-
;   pability or authority. We suggest that  it makes sense for LEPCs to play a similar role with
i   regard to hazardous materials  risk communication: to plan for - but not necessarily to im-
:   plement - a program of risk communication in their communities.* Such a risk communi-
;   cation program might be a component of the emergency response plan and - as suggested
!   above - a vehicle for improving the technical content, credibility,  legitimacy, and effective-
!   ness of the plan. In this sense, the involvement of LEPCs in planning a risk communication
i   program is compatible with their  explicit duties as set forth in Title III.

I   In the role of risk communication  program planners, LEPCs can capitalize on their access to
;   hazardous materials information and their familiarity with their communities, without com-
   mitting themselves to carry out an ongoing program that they do not have the resources to
   support." Of course, if a given  LEPC chooses to become actively involved in the risk com-
  *  However, as mentioned in the 1988 publication It's Not Over in October! A Guide for Local Emergency
     Planning Committees, the LEPCs may be used as a focal point for public disicussion to help reach a
     common understanding of the risks in a community and to help communicate this information to the
     general public.

  10  It seems clear that an effective risk communication program requires an ongoing effort, as discussed

munication process, we f    10 disadvantage to it doing so; but we think a more realistic role
in many communities is '.   ,.EPCs to serve as risk communication program planners, and
as advocates for the proposition that risk communication is sufficiently important to warrant
a commitment of resources.11 Indeed, in those communities that have engaged in risk com-
munication efforts associated with the LEPCs, the  actual work on and financial support for
the program has been provided by a local government agency, or by an industry or citizen
group, working in collaboration with the LEPC.

Whether the LEPCs' role is limited to planning risk communication programs or includes
actual implementation, their membership should be  broadened to Include more represen-
tatives of the media and more members with skills in community participation. These might
include members of community and environmental groups as well as public officials with the
requisite skills.

How Should a Hazardous Materials Risk Communication Program Be Developed
and What Elements Should It Contain?

Given the complexity of this issue and the wealth  of literature that addresses  how risk com-
munication should be carried out, we will not  attempt even to outline a complete hazardous
materials  risk communication program.  We will, however,  examine a variety of issues that
were raised during the course of our case studies and appear to be  relevant to mosf risk
communication situations.
  The source of these resources is an important issue. One possibility currently being explored by a
  number of localities and states is to levy filing fees on facilities that report under Title III. This raises
  many important questions, including whether these filing fee programs should be created at all and,
  if so, whether they should be created and administered on the local, state, or federal level.


 In designing a risk communication plan, it is important to recognize the distinction between

 actual risk communication and more general emergency response communication.  Much

 of the information exchanged under the heading of "risk communication" is actually not

 about risk per se, but about emergency response.  Information about which agencies will

 respond to events in given geographic areas, where citizens should go for emergency in-

 structions, or what evacuation routes to use are examples of emergency response commu-

 nications.  Actual risk communication involves informing citizens of the nature and source

 of risks to their welfare, the likelihood and possible causes of exposure, and/or the probable

 health effects of exposure.

While emergency response information is a vital part of any risk communication plan, it is

also highly important that communication about actual risks  not be overlooked.  This is true

because it is only when citizens understand the risks they face that they can make intelligent

choices about how much to invest in preparing for emergencies or undertaking efforts to

reduce risks. It is important to make a special effort to include genuine risk information in

the risk communication plan since such information may otherwise be avoided for three

main reasons: (1) it is  often more likely to spark controversy, (2) necessary information is

often difficult even for officials to obtain, and (3) responders are generally better prepared to

provide response information than actual risk information.  The suggestions that follow relate

to effective strategies for both risk communication and emergency response communication.

•   A risk communication program should be ongoing.

    It seems clear that  a single flurry of brochures or public  meetings will not have a sig-

    nificant impact on the level of public understanding of hazardous materials risks.  Even

    if the initial effort were able to reach a substantial portion of the population (which seems

    unlikely), population turnover, changes in the nature of the hazardous materials risks

    present, and fading memories would all conspire to dilute the relevance and impact of

                                                          I -               71

   this information.  If a risk communication program is to be effective, it will almost cer-

   tainly have to be an ongoing, long-term program."

   The organization that develops a risk communication program should solicit assistance

   In preparing risk communication materials

   In developing and distributing risk communication materials, an effort should be made

   to get assistance from persons who have experience-with conducting truly interactive

   discussions. For example, in preparing a flyer or brochure announcing a public meeting,

   or determining how the meeting should be organized, it is important to draw on the ex-

   pertise of persons who know how to involve the general public in discussions.  For

   communities that do not have this kind of expertise readily available, and that cannot

   afford to hire outside assistance, help  might be available from local universities or local

   industries with expertise in this area.

   One form of outside assistance is simply to learn about innovative risk communication

   activities in other communities.  In the Title  III context, SERCs can be particularly helpful

   in this regard, by acting as a clearinghouse for information exchange between LEPCs.

   One particularly important service the SERC can perform to assist with risk communi-

   cation is to identify good examples of  risk communication within its jurisdiction, and let

   their LEPCs know the  details of those  activities.
IZ Long-term strategies to increase public understanding of risk issues are also recommended by

 'McCallumef a/, 1990.

 •   Communication efforts must be tailored to the unique characteristics of the communi-

     ties they serve.

     In developing a community's risk communication program, it is important to ask what is

     unique about the community. Some of the risk communication activities that are un-

     successful in certain areas because of a tradition of lack of concern for environmental

     issues, could very well be successful  in communities that have high levels of concern

     for these issues and a tradition  of environmental activism.  By the same token, risk

     communication activities proven to be successful in one community might prove to be

     less than successful in another.

     One of the factors that should be considered is the nature of community organizations.

     It is important to know not only  what organizations  are there and how extensive their

     membership is, but also what their traditions are in terms of becoming involved with

    controversial matters in the community, and especially matters of environmental con-

    cern. Other factors to consider  are the customary level of citizen  participation in the

    community and the  level of trust citizens generally feel toward local government and


                                                         _ i

    In considering the characteristics that  make the community unique, it may be deter-

    mined that there are particular avenues of communication that must be used in order to

    reach the community. For example, it  may be important to use local doctors in order to

    communicate certain types of health effects information (ast compared to using public

    officials or doctors from outside  the community), or to avoid spokespersons from local

    industry in favor of experts who  might  be regarded as more objective."
13 McCallum et al (1990) recommend that health professionals be encouraged and supported 'to become


    Risk communication program planners should identify the patterns of activity and com-

    munication in the community.  For example, if many of the people in the community tend

    to frequent a certain commercial area on Saturdays, it will be important to focus some

    of that community's risk communication  efforts at that location.  If churches are an im-

    portant part of the community's life, risk  communicators should be careful to work with

    churches and church groups. Similarly,  understanding which newspapers, radio

    stations, or TV stations are most commonly read or viewed by the general public is im-

    portant in determining where to place effective advertisements or announcements.  If,

    for example, there is a community-service cable TV station, that may be a good way to

    communicate announcements of meetings and other hazardous materials risk informa-

    tion to the general public.

•   The risk communication plan should be developed in consultation with community or-

    ganizations that might have a role in its  implementation.

    The developers of a community's risk communication program should confer with lead-

    ers of civic and community organizations about the practicality of the plan for their

    community before the plan is adopted.

•   Information on what to do in a har.ardous materials emergency should  be included  in

    a risk communication program.

    A brief and informative brochure to let the public know where to go and what to do in a

    hazardous materials emergency could be a valuable component of a risk communication
  involved in disseminating environmental information so that personal health factors can be ad-'

  dressed." (p. ii)

      program.- This could be circulated to the community through direct mail, by being

      posted on community bulletin boards, and distributed in public meeting places,

      churches, shopping centers and the like. This material should be designed in a way that

      will attract attention and inspire interest on the part of the recipient.  It should be ap-

      propriate to the most likely types of emergencies in the individual community. Police

      and fire agencies have an  interest in helping to develop and distribute such materials

      and their aid should be sought.

      The problems of communicating this kind of information in a pre-emergency situation

      should not be underestimated, however. Research suggests that efforts by utilities to

      inform people who live close to nuclear power plan.ts about the actions to be taken in the

     event of a nuclear emergency have been largely unsuccessful, despite (or maybe be-

     cause of) their use of materials such as calendars with eye-catching art-work." It is not

     certain whether this lack of success has been  due largely tp certain peculiar character-

     istics of the nuclear power  industry, or whether it would be likely to apply equally in the

     field of non-nuclear hazardous materials.

 •   The emergency response plan, chemical lists,  MSDSs, and other hazardous materials

     information should be made readily available to the public, and this availability should

     be advertised.

     The availability of hazardous materials information  should be advertised to the  general

     public.  This should be done through ongoing efforts, and should not be limited to small
" A recent Report to Congress by EPA (1988) pointed out that 'Public education is a key part of the

  public alert and notification process because it prepares people to understand what to do when a

  warning occurs.' (p 38)


15 Gwin, 1989                                                  i

   announcements in the public notice section of the paper. Other good possibilities in-
   clude notices on community bulletin boards and other sources of public information
   (such as a public cable TV station).

   At least the emergency response plan and the lists of chemicals should be available at
   multiple locations within the community, together with simple explanatory materials. In
   this way access will be kept as convenient as possible for citizens, and they will be
   permitted to choose the location with which they are most comfortable. School and
   public libraries can successfully be used as places to make this information available.
   Organizers of this component of the risk communication  efforts should work closely with
   a skilled librarian in order to assure that the information can be located easily.

•  Public forums are an important part of a risk communication program.

   Advertisements for these types of meetings should make it clear to members of the
   community that they will obtain information at the meeting which: (a) is directly relevant
   to them, (b) will assist them in understanding the nature  of the hazardous materials risks
   to which they are exposed, and (c) will assist them in understanding exactly what they
   sho.uld do in  the event of an emergency.  Direct mail may well be an effective strategy
   for this, but it can be very expensive and time consuming. Other possibilities include
   working through community organizations such as the Parent Teachers Association,
   civic organizations, the Chamber of Commerce, and the  League of Women Voters.

   There are a number of important points regarding the way these meetings should be
   organized and  conducted.  It may be necessary to set up a series of meetings since a
   fairly large volume of sometimes complicated information may have to be covered.  Any
   given meeting  should present only that amount of information which a citizen can absorb
   well in a reasonable amount of time, and still allow enough time for discussion.  In
   practice this  may mean  holding one meeting that includes the details of the Emergency

     Response Plan while addressing in other meetings topics such as the likelihood and

     nature of accidents and the nature of the health effects that they could cause. Other

     meetings could address long term concerns and strategies for addressing those con-



     In designing these meetings it is important to take into consideration well established

     practices for making this type of meeting as effective as possible. The meetings

     normally should be scheduled for early evening during the week, or a Saturday morning,

     and should not take longer than two hours (at the very most). They should be held in

     convenient locations, and should be physically organized to make attendees as com-

     fortable as possible so that they will be confident that the meeting organizers are inter-

     ested in hearing their questions and comments as well as providing information.  It is

     essential that these meetings be organized in a way that permits two-way communi-

     cation.  That is, there should be provisions for meaningful question and answer ses-

    Information about the presence of environmental risks often evokes significant emo-

    tional reactions (Wandersmarrel a/., 1989).  People may feel fear, frustration, concern

    about what to do, and even anger that they and their families have been exposed to

    some danger.  For this reason information about actual risks is usually best delivered in

    a forum format rather than through  the media, in flyers, in speeches or in any other for-

    mat that involves only one-way communication.16 In a forum, there are opportunities (1)

    to quiet fears based on misunderstandings, by answering questions, (2) to put a human

    face on the problem by giving the messenger a chance to express empathy and to show

    understanding, (3) for members of the community to offer each other social support as
" The advantages of conducting forums are addressed also in a manual prep.ired for the New Jersey

  Department of Environmental Protection (undated), especially pp. 37-40.   >

   they face difficult choices, and (4) for the community to begin the process of problem-
   solving as participants think collectively of ways to respond to the dangers rather than
   facing these risks in isolation.

   Those who present the information should be persons skilled in communication and not
   merely technical experts.  It is important to reduce information.to terms that lay persons
   will understand, and to present it in a manner that stresses its relevance to citizens.
   Highly technical discussions will transmit little useful information and will not hold citi-
   zens' interest.

•  A contact list should be developed as part of a risk communication program.

   A contact list can be an important tool for risk communicators. This list should include
   the names and addresses of individuals who are interested in hazardous materials is-
   sues, as well as organizations in-the community that can provide assistance in sharing
   information with their members.  Likely organizations on the list include those such as
   the Chamber of Commerce, the Kivvanis or Lions Club, and  the League of Women Voters.
   This list should be  updated on a regular basis; it can provide a standard mailing list for
   any flyers or announcements. If appropriate arrangements are made, the risk commu-
    nicators may be able in some cases to send packages of flyers or brochures or other
    announcements to some organizations and have the organizations then distribute these
    announcements to their members.  In this way risk communicators get the benefit of the
    other organizations' logistical assistance as well as the  benefit of those organizations'
    relationship of trust with their members.

    Developing and maintaining this list will be a considerable task.  To make that task go
    more smoothly, risk communicators should learn  what lists already exist.  It may be that
    the city planning office, Chamber of Commerce, or some other organization in the com-
    munity already has a standard contact list for disseminating information. Such a list

     could provide a good starting point for a hazardous materials risk communication con-
     tact list.            '       '  .

     Volunteer assistance might be-available from community service organizations to help
     develop and revise such a list. The League of Women Voters, for example, might be
     willing to provide that kind of assistance.  Risk communicators could also turn to a local
     university for assistance in this regard - in particular from students who might be inter-
    ested in an internship program for which they receive academic credit whils the com-
    munity receives the  benefit of their assistance.  Students interested in such a project
    could come from departments in, for example, communications studies, sociology, psy-
    chology, political science, urban affairs and planning, or  social work.

•   A 'press kit* should  be  developed as part of a risk communication program.

    A "press kit" would provide pre-emergency information to the  local media to let them
    know about the nature of hazardous materials risks in the area, the existence and re-
    sponsibilities of the LEPC, the nature of the work the LEPC has undertaken so far, and
    the major provisions  of the Emergency Response Plan. This kit would also  include
    general information on Title III, with a particular emphasis on the Community Right To
    Know aspect, and appropriate offices to contact for more  detailed information.

    A specific explanation of the  manner in which risk information will be communicated to
    the media during an emergency should be included in the kit.  The press should know
    before an emergency, not only the technical details of the emergency plan, but exactly
   who should be contacted (including addresses and phone numbers) for risk  information
   during an emergency.

    Local public relations departments or university programs might provide professional
    assistance in developing an effective press kit.'7

•   The community-wide risk communication plan should be updated regularly and coordi-
    nated with plans developed by other agencies.

    Coordination with other agencies' plans is discussed in greater detail below.

Who Should Carry Out a Hazardous Materials Risk Communication Program?

As  indicated earlier, an LEPC may be willing and able to play an active role as a commu-
nicator of risk information to the public, but a more realistic role for many LEPCs may be that
of risk communication planner and advocate. The actual risk communication activity — as is
the case with emergency response - will require an ongoing effort involving many logistical
details.  Whether it is a matter of developing and maintaining contact lists or press kits, de-
veloping and distributing brochures,  or organizing and conducting public meetings, some
reasonable  level of staff support will be necessary; and that staff will need the financial re-
sources to meet the expenses associated with these activities.

Who, then, should carry out this program?  One point that seems clear to us is that, like most
LEPCs,  an organization communicating hazardous materials risk information should be
local. (Indeed, in our case study communities this was the case, although the particular or-
ganization varied from one community to the next.)  Secondly, since the information is of
concern to the entire community, a public agency or quasi-public organization should be in-
volved. Possible public agencies include the community's emergency planning office, health
"  At least part of the function of a press kit may be provided by a guidebook for journalists, recently
   issued by the Environmental Health Center (1989). This guidebook, however, should be supplemented
   by community-specific information.

 department, fire department, or public information office.  It may also be possible to support

 with public funds the risk communication efforts of quasi-public not-for-profit organizations.

 In any event, the entity responsible for this day-to-day work of hazardous materials risk

 communication should be provided with resources adequate to support an ongoing effort

 and will need close cooperation from emergency response organizations and local industry.

 What Should be the Relationship Between a Hazardous Materials  Risk

 Communication Program and Other Risk Communication Programs

 in a Community?

 Developers of a hazardous materials risk communication program in a given community may

 benefit from examining - and perhaps collaborating with - other programs concerned with

 communicating  risk and emergency response information.  In an area, for example, with a

 nuclear power plant, significant efforts may already have been made to engage in some form

 of risk communication. Organizers of a program concerned with non-nuclear risk issues

 may be able to learn from those efforts. It may also be possible to use some of the same

 resources, or combine efforts for public forums. Similarly, areas accustomed to natural

 disasters such as hurricanes, flash floods, or earthquakes, may  already have in place sig-

 nificant programs designed to inform the public about the nature and scope of these risks,

 and the proper course of action in  an emergency.  Here, too, it may be possible to collab-

 orate.  Similarly, a community with a Superfund site may have a different group communi-

 cating about Superfund risks than those communicating about Title III risks or RCRA risks.


 In short, a community needs to ask itself whether it makes sense to have one group com-

 municating risk  information relating to hazardous materials as defined in  Title III, while an-

other group is concerned  with nuclear risks, and another with natural disasters. The

question needs to be explored whether the best approach from the standpoint of public


understanding is to develop a comprehensive program to provide the risk and emergency

response information that the community needs.

What Materials and Services Might Assist Local Organizations in Planning an

Effective Risk Communication Program?

Our survey of LEPCs found that most members were quite confident of their ability to man-

age the technical aspects of response planning, but that few felt well prepared to communi-

cate risks to the public or to secure public input for the planning process.

For this reason, as well as others discussed elsewhere in this report, we recommend that

the EPA continue to produce and distribute materials that will assist communities with their

risk communication efforts,1'  including a guidebook to assist LEPC members and others in

planning  a risk communication program appropriate for their own community.

Our case studies and general inquiries also revealed that few LEPCs are aware of what other

organizations are doing in the. risk communication area.  SERCs r-- play an important role

in solving this probiem because they are well situated to actively  gather information on the

risk communication efforts of organizations in their states and  in other states, and to sys-

tematically share this information with the LEPCs so that they may learn from each others'

experience. We therefore recommend that, where  possible, SERCs  make concerted efforts

to bring LEPC members together periodically to discuss the risk communication aspects of

their charge and to participate in workshops on involving and informing the public.
11 Existing publications include:  Sandman, 1986; McNeil et a/, 1989; Madden and Bales, 1989.




  Church, Zach (1988), Local Implementation By New England Municipalities Of The Emergency

  Planning And Community Right-To-Know Act Of 1986, Draft Report submitted to EPA,

  Region I.

  Conn, W. D., W. L. Owens, R. C. Rich, and Manheim, J. B. (1989), Processing Hazardous Ma-

  terials Risk Information at the Local Level, EPA-230-06-89-063.  Washington. D.C.: U.S. Envi-

  ronmental Protection Agency.
 Environmental Health Center (1989), Chemicals the Press and the Public: A Journalist's.

 Guide to Reporting on Chemicals in the Community.  Washington, DC:  National Safety
 Fisher, Ann. McClelland, G. H., and Schulze, W. D. (1989). "Communicating Risk Under Title

 III of SARA: Strategies for Explaining Very Small Risks in a Community Context," JAPCA, 39.


 Gwin,  Louis (1989), Risk Communication and Nuclear Power, unpublished dissertation.

 Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

 Hadden, Susan G.  and Barry V. Bales (1989), University of Texas at Austin, Lyndon B. .

 Johnson School of Public Affairs (1989), Risk Communication about Chemicals in Your Com-

 munity:  A Manual for Local Officials. Draft.  EPA-230-09-89-066.  Washington, D.C. U.S. Envi-

 ronmental Protection Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

 It's Not Over In October! A Guide For Local Emergency Planning Committees (1988).


Kartez, Jack (forthcoming), "Community Planning for Industrial Risk: A Title III Research


Agenda," Industrial Crisis Quarterly.

Lynn, Frances M. (1989), "Citizen Involvement in Using Community Right-to-Know informa-

tion for Emergency Planning and Source Reduction," Annual Meeting of the Air and Waste

Management Association, Los Angeles.

McNeil, Caroline, Elaine Bratic Arkin, and David B. McCallum (1989), Toxic and Hazardous

Substances, Title III and Communities: An Outreach Manual for Community Groups.

EPA-56-1-89-002. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Toxic


McCallum, David B., S. L. Hammond, L. A. Morris, and V. T. Covello (1990), Public Knowledge

and Perceptions of Chemical Risks in Six Communities: 'Analysis of a Baseline Survey,

EPA-230-01-90-074. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection  Agency.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection,  Division of Science and Research

(Undated), Improving Dialogue With Communities: A Risk Communication Manual For Gov-


Sandman, Peter (1986), Explaining Environmental Risk. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Environ-

mental Protection Agency, Office of Toxic Substances.

Sutton, Vickie V. (1989), Perceptions of Local Emergency Planning Committee Members' Re-

sponsibility for Risk Communication and a Proposed Model Risk Communication Program for

Local Emergency Planning Committees Under SARA Title III, Unpublished Dissertation, Uni-

versity of Texas at Dallas.

U.S. EPA (1988), Report to Congress: Review of Emergency Systems. Washington, D.C.: U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid  Waste and  Emergency Response.


U.S. EPA (1989), Successful Practices ,n Tide III Implementation, Technical Assistance Bul-
letin 6, Vol. 1. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste
and Emergency Response.

Wandersman, A., W. Ha.lman, and S. Berrnan (1989), "How Residents Cope With Living  Near
a Hazardous Waste Landfill," American Journal of Community Health, 17.


Data Collection Instruments -
       LEPC Survey


                                                                         a land-grunt university
       University Center (or Environmental S Hazardous Materials Studies
       Blacksburg  Virginia 24061-0113  USA
       Tel: (703) 231-7508  Fax: (703) 231-7826
       TX: 9103331861 VPI BKS  Bitnet: CONN at VTVM1                 j

                                                                          January 24. 1989


       Dear Local Emergency Planning Committee Chair.

       The enclosed materials are being sent to you as part of research being conducted at Virainia
       Po ytechmc Institute and State University. We are sending questionnaire^ • 5h 3 U e , LEPcI
       S,i",T    V   ented StateS" We have discussed the  selection of your Mate with your
       state s Emergency Response Commission, as well as with the EPA regional office i
        hP^ maป7 ฐbjectfvฎ of this research is to obtain information which will help us to determine
        hat materials and programs should be developed to assist LEPC members  We needToปr
                 lฐ CฐndUCt thJS StUdy" Accordi"^- ซซ would be very gr^Mf you woutc fdoThe
       1.  Review the questionnaire so that you are generally familiar with it.

       2.  Distribute one questionnaire to each of your members, including yourself  Each of the
          enclosed envelopes contains one questionnaire.

          Our preference is that you distribute the questionnaire at a meeting of your LEPC and
          prov.de approximately one half-hour at the same  meeting for your members to fill ft out
          However you choose to handle the distribution, please emphasize SeTmSStance of
          completing and returning the questionnaire to you promptly.

          Since we do not know exactly how many members are on each LEPC, we are enclosina
          24 questionnaires. In most cases that will be enough to provide one  or each member
          Jf you need more questionnaires for your LEPC. please either make additbnalTopTes
          or call us at the number above and we will send additional copies to you.

       3.  Fill out the enclosed LEPC Information Form and a questionnaire yourself.

       4.  Collect the completed questionnaires in their sealed envelopes from your LEPC mem-
          sugglJtldln step?)8^'6' preferably at the same  meetin9 as they were distributed  (as
       5.  Return all of the completed questionnaires (still in their sealed envelopes) in the en-
          closed pre-stamped 10x13 envelope addressed to the University Center for Environ-
          mental and Hazardous Materials Studies.  If at all possible, please mail these
          questionnaires back to us by the end of February, 1939.

                                               Sincerely yours,
                                               W. David Conn
                                               William L. Owens
                                               Richard C. Rich


                                LEPC INFORMATION FORM
                                 To be completed by the LEPC Chair
1.   In what month and year was your LEPC officially formed?

2.   How many members now serve on your LEPC?    	
3.   How often did your LEPC meet before submitting the emergency response plan?
4.  How often will your LEPC meet after the emergency response plan has been approved?
5.   Please check the statement which most nearly describes the stage your LEPC has reached in develooina a
     comprehensive plan for responding to hazardous materials emergencies.

    __        Plan has been completed and submitted to the state.

     _____ Currently drafting the final version of the plan.

     _____ In the process of developing the plan.

            . Other (please describe)
6. Please indicate which of the following methods your
planning process.
committee has used
to obtain
input for the
• Placed announcements of LEPC meetings which
indicated that they were open to the public
• Placed announcements of LEPC meetings which
specifically encouraged the public to attend
• Held public hearings or community meetings
on the Title III planning process
• Sent representatives to meetings of other
organizations to speak about the plan
• Published drafts or summaries of the emergency
response plan and invited public comment
• Invited local media to carry stories about the
LEPC or the emergency response plan
• Other (specify)

1 2
' 2
1 2

i ; 2

1 2

1 2




' 3









7.   How many facilities handling hazardous materials are to report to your LEPC?

8.   Of those facilities that have already reported, what proportion would you say submitted lists of hazardous
     materials rather than Materials Safety Data Sheets (eg: 33%. 75%. etc.).  __	

9.   Approximately how many requests for information on hnrnrtlous materials has your LEPC received from
     citizens or organized groups?	

10.  Which of the following made the most requests?

               	Individual citizens                          	Other (please specify below)

               	Environmentalist groups         .	
               __ Other community organizations              	We have no records on this

                                        ~ CONTINUED ON BACK -

11,  WUich of Ihe followinq statements is/are true of the procedure your LEPC has developed for responding to
    citizen requests for information on hazardous materials in the community'  Please check all that apply.

    	An office which is accessible to the public has been designated for receiving citizen requests. •

    	The telephone number and/or nddress of this office tins been widely advertised.

    	The person assiqned lo respond to citizen requests is a full-time employee of some organization which
          is responsible for emergency preparedness.

        Photocopying is available to citizens at the location where information is stored.

    	Assistance in interpreting technical information is mnclc available to citizens upon request.

    _____ A contact has been designated to help citizens understand toxics release emissions information
          required under Section 313.
        Other (please specify)
 12.  Has your LEPC developed a "press kit" with information the media can use to report on the LEPC. the re-
     sponse plan and/or the most likely hazmat incidents in your  area? If 'YES', please enclose a copy when
     returning this form.

        	YES      	NO. BUT A KIT IS BEING DEVELOPED       .	NO

 13.  How much does your LEPC rely on each of the following techniques to get nonemergency information to the
     public through the local media?
     ^                                                     MAJOR        SECONDARY      MINOR OR NO
                                                           RELIANCE        RELIANCE        RELIANCE  -

     •    Responding to requests for information from        ,12345
          the media

     •    Inviting media representatives to attend any LEPC       1       2      '3       4       5
          function that may produce information the public
          should have

     •    Having any media-affiliated members of the LEPC        12345
          report information to their organizations

     •    Distributing press releases to the media                12345

     •    Other (specify)     __	12345
  14.  Please write the number of each of the following types of media that regularly cover events in your LEPC's
      jurisdiction. If you do not know an answer, put an "X~ in that blank.


  15.  Has your LEPC designated in the response plan  the person(s) responsible for communicating risk informa-
      tion to the public in the event of a hazmat emergency?   	YES   __ NO

  16.  If you answered "YES" to No. 14, please tell us the position of the person(s) whom the plan makes respon-
      sible for emergency risk communication (eg:  county health official, public information officer for the fire
                            On what date did you complete this form?_
                           "• THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR COOPERATION. "•



                                  -- INTRODUCTION -
mme what materials and programs shoud be JeTeto^d
                                                                     ""dueled  at  Virginia

                                                               m      Wi'Uhelp us to
                                                                that your individua, answers

       nation's LEPCs.  Please answer as Sy ™s possfble ?f ?S  ฃ*,*
3.   How would you rate your LEPC in each of the following areas?
                          AREA               EJ
    •   Information gathering capabilities
    •   Capacity for analyzing information
    •   Competent and dedicated members
    •   Capacity for communicating with
        government agencies
    •   Capacity for communicating with
        business and industry
    •   Capacity for communicating with
        the general public
    •   Capacity for communicating with  groups
        with a special interest in the environment
    •    Relations with the news media  '
    •    Public visibility
    •    Confidence of the public in its
         ability to p--*ect their interests
4 >
 4,   How  would you rate the cooperation your LEPC receives from most businesses involved with
     hazardous materials?
                                                        5      4
                                  ADEQUATE     INADEQUATE
                                      3      2       1
 5.   Please rate both the frequency and nature of the contact your LEPC has with environmentalist
     groups by putting an "X" over one number under each category below.

 6.  How likely do you think it is that your LEPC can accomp.i.h each of the following goals?
         Improving the community's ability to understand     5
         risk information in the event of a hazmat emergency

         Informing citizens of the. response plan well         5
         enough that they understand and support it

         Securing enough citizen involvement in updating     5
         the plan that it effectively addresses the
         community's concerns

         Responding effectively and efficiently to citizens'    5
         requests for information on hazardous materials

         Stimulating public discussion of the environ-        5
         mental choices confronting the communily
          Not very important, the LEPC can design an effective plan alone  '       1

          Somewhat important, we can use selected input to improve the plan.     3

          Very important, public participation is necessary for  a good plan.         5
       Newspapers 1     Television 2   Radio 3    Other 4  (Specify).
9.   Please rate the media that cover your area in terms of both the amount and quality of the cover-
 .  age they g.ve to your LEPC by marking a number under each heading beside each lype of medta.
                          AMOUNT OF COVERAGE

                 TOO MUCH       ENOUGH      TOO LITTLE

    •   Newspapers 54321

    •   Television   54321

    •   Radio       54321

  GOOD         FAIR          POOR

    5      4-321

    54      3       2       1

    54      3       2       1

10  If the media were doing a story on a nonemergency hazmat situation in your area, what priority
    do you think they should give to each of the following kinds of information in that coverage?

                                                       HIGH       MODERATE        LOW
                                                     PRIORITY       PRIORITY       PRIORITY

    •   The likelihood of an accident                      54321

    •   The possible causes of an accident                54321

    •   Possible health effects of an accident              54321

    •   Statements  by public safety officials               54321

    •   Statements  by local environmentalists             5      4      32      1

    •   Statements  from the business .involved            5      43      2      1

    •   provisions of the emergency response plan        54321

    •  Political  controversy surrounding the              5      4    '   3      2       1
        conditions leading to the danger

 11.  How  would you describe the level of concern about environmental problems (including but not

     limited to hazardous materials) in your community?

                                                       MAJOR       IMPORTANT        MINOR
                                                       ISSUE          ISSUE          ISSUE
 12  Do you feel that those who are most vocal in their concern about environmental issues in your
     LEPC area are an unrepresentative minority or a crossectton of the public?


  13. In your LEPC jurisdiction, how active are organized groups concerned with the environment?

                                                        VERY       MODERATELY       NOT
                                                       ACTIVE         ACTIVE         ACTIVE
  14  How confident are you that you personally have an accurate picture of the level and content of

      public concern about environmental issues in your LEPC area?

                                                        HIGHLY      MODERATELY       NOT
                                                      CONFIDENT      CONFIDENT      CONFIDENT
  15. How many months have you been a member of the LEPC?	 (NUMBER OF MONTHS)

 16.  Do you currently hold any of the following offices in the LEPC?

     •    LEPC Chair

     •    Community Information Coordinator

     •    Community Emergency Coordinator

     •    Subcommittee Chair

•   Attending meetings of the full LEPC or its subcommittees

•   Planning for meetings (preparing presentations, etc.)

•   Gathering information for the LEPC

•   Evaluating information for the LEPC (risk assessment, mapping, etc.)

•   Seeking public opinion on planning issues             !

•   Informing the public of LEPC activities

•   Attending seminars or training sessions
•   Studying about hazardous materials risks on your own
18.  Please indicate  if you have received and read each of the following publications by marking an
     x over a number under each heading beside each publication.

        "Hazardous Materials Emergency Planning Guide"
        (NRT-1) by The National Response Team

        "Technical Guidance for Hazards Analysis"
        distributed by the EPA

        "Explaining Environmental Risk" by Peter
        Sandman, distributed by the EPA

        EPA Technical Assistance Bulletin #4:  Report
        on the Risk Communication Conference

        "Its Not Over in October:  A Guide for LEPCs"
                                                  RECEIVED IT?

                                                    YES !MO

                                                     1   2

                                                     1   2

                                                     1   2

                                                     1   2

                                                     1   2


  1   2




19.  Please tell us if you are a member of the following types of organizations or groups by putting
    an 'X" over "YES" or "NO" beside each one.'
               TYPE OF ORGANIZATION                                MEMBER?
    A.  Fire department or rescue squad                       YES           NO
    B.  Police department                                    YES           NO
    C.  Hospital emergency team or management               YES           NO
    D.  Industry safety team or management                    YES           NO
    E.  Business association (Chamber of Commerce, olc.)       YES           NO
    F.  News media                                         YES           NO
    G.  Environmental  interest group                          YES           NO
    H.  Community or neighborhood organization               YES           .NO
    I.   Elected government officials                           YES           NO
    J.  Non-elected government officials (planner, etc.)          YES           NO
20. LEPCs are supposed to include members from a variety of groups.  If you feel that you were ap-
    pointed to the LEPC as a result of your association with one of the above groups, please write the
    letter which is to the left of that group in the blank thai follows. If your appointment was unrelated
    to group  affiliation, put a "X* in the blank.	
21, How much experience have you had with each of the following?
                         ACTIVITY                   GREAT_DEAL       SOME       VERY LITTLE
    •   Speaking before groups                         5      4      3      2      1
    •   Dealing with representatives of the news  medin     54321
    •   Communicating technical information to the ptihlic  54321
    •   Resolving conflicts among diverse groups         54321
    •   Working with government officials                54321
    •   Using a personal computer                      54321

 How l.key is it that you would act.vely use training materials containing each of the followina
 types of information?  Please look over the complete list before rating individual terns since we
 are trymg to identify the most important types of m*t*ri,i, to
            How to effectively manage information
            acquired under right-to-know provisions     '

            How to effectively communicate chemical risk
            information to the public during an emergency

            How to communicate chemical risk information
            to the public in the absence of an emergency

            Coordinating OSHA planning requirements
            for facilities with the response  plan

            Coordinating spill prevention and
           control planning  with the response plan

           Coordinating catastrophic earthquake
           planning with the response plan

           Coordinating nuclear power plant and
           radiation plans with the response plan

           Coordinating federal facilities planning
           with the response plan

           How to take Department of Transportation route
           planning into consideration in the plan

           Information on evacuation and in-place
           sheltering in emergencies

           How to use the planning process to
           prevent chemical accidents

           A catalog of resources to use in planning for
           and responding to hazards
1   23.
For background information, which of the following describes your highest level of education?
                                 Some high school           1

                                 High school degree         2

                                 Vocational school           3

                                 Some college               4

                                 College degree             5

                                 Some graduate work        6 ,.

                                 Graduate or                7
                                 professional degree

24.  What is your occupation? Please be as specific as possible. Give job title if applicable (for exam-
    ple: Safety director for local chemical firm; Homemaker; Retired high school biology teacher; etc.
25.  In which 'sector* is your occupation?
                             Public Sector (government)
                             Private Sector (business)
                             Volunteer Sector (Red Cross, charity hospital, etc.)
                             Other (homemaker, retiree, etc.)
26.  What is your gender?
27.  Which of the following categories includes your age?
                                                                           Under 30
                                                                           60 and Over
28.  If you have any observations concerning the LEPC's communication with the public which our
    questions have  not covered but which you  feel  are  important to understanding the situation,
    please write them on the inside back cover of this questionnaire or enclose additional pages.

Data Collection Instrument
       Case Studies


     -•    IN
 What do YOU think?
               & STATE DIVERSITY


                 Ou       erobUcttv*           ''™'10*  """"

research.                                 localities to be  included in this

We are seeking your opinions because you are affili**^ ซ<ซ.ป.
                                W. David Conn
                                William L. Owens
                                Richard C. Rich
                                University Center for Environmental
                                  and Hazardous Materials Studies
                                Virginia Polytechnic Institute
                                  and State University
                                Blacksburg, VA  24061-0113


                  that  coriespoas
 The danger of a major
 release of hazardous
 substances from a plant,
 warehouse, etc.

 The*chance that a truck
 or train accident will
 release hazardous

 The chance that  people's
 health will suffer due
 to long-term exposure to
 hazardous  substances

 The danger that water,     •
 soil or air will be
 contaminated  by slow
 leaks  of hazardous materials.
The danger of a hazardous
materials emergency (for
example, a.large chemical
spill or gas leak)

I-ong-term pollution by
hazardous materials
                                                              NOT SURE

4.  Do citizens have a legally established right to know what hazardous
materials are used, stored, or produced at specific plants or other
facilities in their community?
5.  If you wanted to find out what hazardous materials were handled by a
given firm in your community, what specific agency or official would you
contact to get this information?
6.  Are you a member of any  local organization that has, in the past two
years, done something to  learn more about hazardous materials risks in
your community  (invited speakers, sent someone to talk with & local firm,
held a public forum, etc. )?
     If you  answered "yes,"  please  tell us what organization this is and
     what  type  of activity it  undertook.
 7.   Information on environmental issues  in your  community can come from
 many sources.   Please tell us which of the following  sources you would
 rely on by writing a 1,  2, or 3 beside the three sources you are most
 likely to turn to for information.
      community organizations
      (civic groups, homeowners
      associations,  etc. )

      environmental groups
      (Sierra, Audubon, etc.)

      private physicians

      local industry

      friends or work associates

      local emergency planning
(Number your first choice "l". )

___ public agencies (health de-
     partment, civil defense
     office, etc. )

___ personal contact with specific
     public officials

____ local newspapers

__	 local television

____ local radio

	 other (please specify)

                                            emergency occurred in your
                                                                NOT SURE
9.   If there was  a major hazard*,,,! mfl*  ^
today, how would  you personally sV inf-f !/mer8ency *ป 7ฐ"' community
protect yourself  and/or  your  family*       tlon on what yฐu should do to
10. Are you aware that an organization in your
a hazards analysis and developed a plan for resSjf01^ has conducted
materials emergencies (designated shelters and evai"8 to hazardous
for example)?                            S ana eva^ation procedures,
                                        US What
    How did you learn about the existence of the response plan?

             yฐU know,.of this Planป hฐw confident are you that
         to protect the community in most hazardous materials
                         FAIRLY               HIGHLY
                       CONFIDENT             CONFIDENT

11. Some people feel that it is important for them to know a good deal
about the environmental risks that exist in their community.   Others
don't feel this way.  Is it important enough to you that you would be
willing to do each of the following?

    Spend two hours studying the hazards         	 YES      _____ NO
    analysis and emergency response plan
    for your community.

    Attend a two-hour public meeting                ._ YES      	 NO
    where these issues were addressed.

    Spend 30 minutes a week reading              ____ YES      _____ NO
    news articles or other materials
    that keep you up-to-date on these

12. Have you seen any explanation (publication, film, speech, etc. ) of
the process by which citizens can learn about hazardous materials risks
in this area under the "community right to know" provisions of Title III
of the Super fund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA)?

                                      YES          NQ      	>NOT SURE

•   If you answered "yes," please tell us how and. where you saw this
    Have you shared this information with other members of an organiza-
    tion to which you belong by some formal means like speaking at a meeting
    or putting an item in the newsletter?

                                                 	 YES      	 NO

If you would like more information on hazardous materials issues, you may
want to request a booklet entitled Chemicals in Your Community!
A guide tP the KmPrgenev Planning and Community Right to Know to Aet   .
from:  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (OS-120), Washington, DC 20460.