Sometimes, when an EPA On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) or other emergency responder comes to the scene of a hazardous substance release, he or she immediately knows that extra technical help will be needed. In these cases, the federal OSC or responder may request additional support from several response teams established under the National Contingency Plan:
- Environmental Response Team (ERT)
- National Response Team (NRT)
- Regional Response Team (RRT)
The Environmental Response Team (ERT) is a vital force in EPA's battle to eliminate hazardous substance threats. The ERT is a group of EPA technical experts who provide around-the-clock assistance at the scene of hazardous substance releases, offering expertise in such areas as treatment, biology, chemistry, hydrology, geology, and engineering. The ERT can provide support to the full range of emergency response actions, including unusual or complex emergency incidents such as when an underwater release challenges EPA. In such cases, ERT can bring in special equipment and experienced responders, and can provide the OSC or lead responder with experience and advice.
The National Response Team (NRT) is an inter-agency group that provides guidance prior to an incident and, when requested, technical and financial assistance during an incident. When activated for a response action, the NRT may take several actions:
- Monitor and evaluate reports from the OSC and recommend, through the Regional Response Teams specific response actions;
- Request resources from other federal, state, or local governments or private agencies to combat a release, or to monitor response operations; and/or
- Coordinate the supply of equipment, personnel, or technical advice to the affected region from other regions.
Regional Response Teams (RRTs) also are interagency groups that consist of representatives from federal, state, and local governments that conduct pre-response planning and preparedness activities, as well as coordinate and provide advice during response actions. The two principal components of the RRT are below:
- Thirteen standing teams that provide region-wide support on communications, planning, coordination, training, evaluation, and preparedness. The jurisdiction of each standing team corresponds to the ten Federal Regions, with the addition of: (1) Alaska; (2) Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands; and (3) Hawaii and U.S. trusts or territories in the Pacific.
- Incident-specific teams for which participation depends on the technical nature and location of the incident.