An emergency planning committee that serves four west central Nebraska counties has received an award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Region 26 Nebraska Local Emergency Planning Committee, serving Thomas, Blaine, Loup and Garfield counties, was honored for overall excellence in serving a population of less than 20,000 people, according to an EPA press release.

According to information about the award on the EPA’s website, Region 26 LEPC covers the Sandhills, an area with few hazardous chemical locations. The key threat is transportation of chemicals along the highways.

The Region 26 LEPC focuses on issues that affect hazardous materials management in the area. The LEPC instructs citizens on how they would be contacted in a hazmat situation and created pamphlets for “sheltering in place.” Because of its unique remote location, the LEPC also addresses all hazards that are not hazmat-related, including tallgrass fires in the open range.

They also help protect homes by providing safety information regarding propane and household chemicals with fire protection and home safety planning brochures. The LEPC Facebook page provides safety tips.

The award was among 16 announced Friday at the biennial Region 7 Local Emergency Planning Committee’s Planning and Response Conference in Omaha.

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