National Response Team (NRT) Member Roles and Responsibilities
EPA personnel chair the National Response Team and cochair all Regional Response Teams (RRTs). The agency provides On-Scene Coordinators (OSCs), scientific support coordinators for inland spills, and Remedial Project Managers for hazardous waste remedial actions under Superfund. EPA funds the Environmental Response Team (ERT), which is dispatched at the OSC's request to any response episode exceeding available regional resources. The ERT can provide support for site assessments, health and safety issues, action plan development, and contamination monitoring. Legal expertise is also available from EPA to interpret environmental statutes.
An agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Coast Guard serves as ViceChair for the National Response Team. U.S. Coast Guard provides OSCs for coastal zones and cochairs all RRTs. Twenty four hour-a-day staffed facilities in 46 "Captain of the Port Zones" are maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, for command, control, and surveillance of releases in coastal waters. The U.S. Coast Guard manages the National Response Center and maintains a National Strike Force, specially trained and equipped to respond to major marine pollution incidents. The U.S. Coast Guard's Strike Teams are based on the Pacific and Gulf Coasts. The U.S. Commandant of the Coast Guard also serves as fund manager for the Oil Pollution Liability Trust Fund set up under the Clean Water Act.
During a response effort, FEMA advises and aids lead agencies in coordinating relocation assistance. The agency provides guidance, policy, and technical assistance in emergency preparedness planning, training, and exercising activities for state and local governments.
DoD acts when oil or hazardous substances are released from a facility or vessel under its jurisdiction. Upon request, DoD will provide U.S. Navy oil spill containment and recovery equipment and manpower, as well as equipment for ship salvaging, shipboard damage control, and diving. DoD may also make U.S. Army Corp of Engineer equipment and expertise available for removing navigational obstructions and performing ship structural repairs.
This agency provides OSCs when hazardous substances are released from DOE facilities, or when materials being transported under DOE's control are spilled. DOE staff aids in the control of immediate radiological hazards.
USDA measures, evaluates, and monitors situations where natural resources, including soil, water, wildlife, and vegetation have been affected by hazardous substances. USDA contributes expertise from the following organizations:
- Forest Service
- Agriculture Research Service
- Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service)
- Food Safety and Inspection Service
- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
This department, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), provides scientific support for resources and contingency planning in coastal and marine areas including hazard assessment and spill trajectory (direction) monitoring to predict movement and dispersion of oil and other hazardous substances. NOAA contributes information about sensitive coastal environments, and furnishes data about actual and predicted meteorological, hydrological, ice, and oceanographic conditions. NOAA also serves as the natural resource trustee for the living marine resources it manages and protects.
Health hazards at a response are assessed by HHS. Agencies within HHS that maintain and provide information on health effects include the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the National Institutes for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). NIEHS also offers training on the health effects of oil spills.
This department contributes expertise on natural resources, endangered species, and Federal lands and waters, and is responsible for native Americans and U.S. territories. Regional Environmental Officers (REO) of DOI are designated members of RRTs DOI serves as a natural resource trustee for the resources it manages or protects. Bureaus within the department with expertise include:
- Fish and Wildlife Service
- Geological Survey
- Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Bureau of Land Management
- Minerals Management Service
- Bureau of Mines
- National Park Service
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement
- Office of Territorial Affairs
Expert advice on legal questions arising from discharges or releases, and Federal agency responses, can be obtained from this agency. DOJ represents the Federal government in litigation relating to discharges or releases.
Through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), DOL conducts safety and health inspections of hazardous waste sites to ensure that onsite employees are protected from hazards and to determine if a site is in compliance with safety and health standards and regulations.
In addition to the activities of the U.S. Coast Guard, response expertise is provided by DOT pertaining to transportation of oil or hazardous substances through the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA). RSPA offers specialized advice on requirements of packaging, handling, and transporting regulated hazardous materials. RSPA serves other functions, including promulgating and enforcing hazardous materials regulations (49 CFR Part 100199), producing emergency response guidebooks, and supporting protective action decision strategies and exercise scenarios.
When radioactive materials by its licensees are released, this agency responds in accordance with the its incident response plan.
This agency takes the lead in developing international contingency plans. It helps coordinate international response efforts, when discharges or releases cross international boundaries or involve foreign flag vessels. The agency also coordinates requests for aid from foreign governments.