Programs and Initiatives
Homeland Security Programs Quick Links
EPA's Homeland Security programs and initiatives are located within numerous EPA offices and across all ten EPA Regions. Below you can find links to the various homeland security program web sites organized by topic. For more information on the roles and responsibilities of each EPA program office, visit the roles and responsibilities section of this web site
- Criminal Enforcement & Forensics
- Emergency Preparedness & Response
- Food and Agriculture Protection
- Pandemic Flu Preparedness
- Regional Programs
- Research & Science
- Water Security
The Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training (OCEFT) directs EPA's Criminal program and provides a broad range of technical and forensic services for civil and criminal investigative support, including responses to terrorist attacks or other incidents of national significance.
The Homeland Security Division (HSD) in OCEFT conducts operational responses to Incidents of National Significance.
- OCEFT's Criminal Investigation Division's Area Offices Regional Coordination and Training Team provides technical assistance and information coordination
- The National Enforcement and Investigations Center in OCEFT develops and implements innovative techniques, practices, and procedures; devises specialized methods and/or technical field applications; and transfers these capabilities to state, local, and Federal environmental enforcement and compliance assurance programs.
EPA’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) works with other EPA programs, federal agencies, state and local response agencies, and industry to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from accidents, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks. OEM’s web site features:
- How EPA prepares for and responds to emergencies
- EPA's emergency management partners, such as Special Teams
- EPA's Regional Emergency Management programs, which assist state, local, and tribal responders.
The Radiological Emergency Response Program, in the OAR's Office of Indoor Air and Radiation, helps prepare for and respond to emergencies involving radioactive materials. This website features:
- How EPA prepares for and responds to radiological emergencies
- EPA’s Radiological Emergency Response Team
- EPA’s Regional Radiation Protection programs
EPA is designated as the lead federal agency for the remediation of areas contaminated by terrorist events involving the release of biological, chemical, or radiological threat agents.
- EPA's National Decontamination Team (NDT) located in Cincinnati, Ohio, provides expertise and support to On-Scene Coordinators regarding the decontamination of buildings or other structures in the event of an incident involving releases of radiological, biological, or chemical contaminants. The NDT identifies research needs and assists in the implementation of newly developed methods and field tools.
- EPA's Environmental Response Team provides technical assistance in responding to environmental emergencies such as oil spills, hazardous emergencies, and potentially hazardous situations such as terrorist attacks.
- EPA's Acute Exposure Guideline Levels Program (AEGL) develops guideline levels for once-in-a-lifetime, short-term exposures to airborne concentrations of acutely toxic, high-priority chemicals. AEGLs are needed for a wide range of applications in chemical emergency planning, prevention and response programs.
- Per Section 18 of FIFRA, EPA may issue Emergency Exemptions to permit the use of an unregistered pesticide against agricultural and public health pests in emergencies. Exemption requests typically require several weeks of EPA review of a submitted application, however a state or federal agency could issue a crisis exemption in an emergency condition. For example, after the 2001 bioterrorist attacks, EPA issued crisis exemptions to permit the use of several antimicrobial pesticides for site decontamination.
Read more about:
- Fact sheets on chemicals for which crisis exemptions were issued
- Fact sheets on antimicrobial pesticides
- EPA recently issued Pesticide Registration Notice 2008-2, which provides guidance for registration of anthrax-related products
- Indoor and Outdoor Decontamination Research being conducted by the National Homeland Security Research Center focuses on improving the nation’s ability to respond to terrorist attacks affecting indoor and outdoor environments.
Read more about the NHSRC.
EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery's Waste Management for Homeland Security Incidents web site provides information that can be used in planning before a homeland security incident occurs and in decision-making during and after an incident occurs. In particular, the web site includes information on:
- Pre-incident planning and preparation
- Considerations for waste management decisions
- Waste management options
- Tools and resources
- Frequently asked questions
In accordance with the National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan, the EPA chairs the interagency National Response Team. The NRT provides technical assistance, resources and coordination on preparedness, planning, response and recovery activities for emergencies involving hazardous substances, pollutants and contaminants, hazmat, oil, and weapons of mass destruction. The NRT ensures that:
- Interagency resources, including technical expertise, can be accessed quickly during a nationally significant incident
- Technical guidance, reference documents and supporting material is developed and effective for response personnel
- The Regional Response Teams, which support response efforts in each of the EPA regions, are given nationally consistent operating guidance and support
- The National Response Center provides rapid notification to Federal On Scene Coordinators, NRT member agencies and stakeholders on the release hazardous substances, pollutants and contaminants reported under CERCLA or the Clean Water Act
EPA's statutory authorities to protect human health and the environment, and its other homeland security requirements and assignments, help to support its specific responsibilities for food and agriculture protection under HSPD-9. Relevant core capabilities include:
- Emergency response and waste disposal
- Drinking water and wastewater monitoring and surveillance programs and water quality protection
- Authorizing the sale and use of pesticides to protect crops, animals, food supplies, and humans from pests, including insects and pathogens
- Research and development
- FIFRA authorizes the EPA and states to register or license pesticides for use in the United States through the Pesticide Registration Program.
- The Pesticide Emergency Exemption Program authorized EPA to allow an unregistered use of a pesticide for a limited time if the EPA determines that an emergency condition exists.
In response to the President's Implementation Strategy for the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, EPA's Office of Homeland Security (OHS) is leading EPA's efforts to prepare and respond to pandemic influenza. Like all other Federal Agencies, EPA is tasked with
- Protecting the health of EPA employees
- Supporting the federal response and state, local and tribal entities
- Maintaining essential functions and services
- Communicating with our stakeholders
Read more about EPA’s Pandemic Influenza efforts.
Each EPA Regional Office coordinates homeland security programs within their respective geographical area. Here you can select a region or use the links below the map to find homeland security information on that region.
Read more about EPA’s regional programs and initiatives.
The National Homeland Security Research Center (NHSRC) develops and delivers products to prevent, prepare for, and recover from public health and environmental emergencies arising from terrorist threats and incidents. This web site offers tools, applications, reports, papers, and research in the following topic areas:
- Indoor and Outdoor Decontamination
- Water Infrastructure Protection
- Response Capability Enhancement
- Standardized Analytical Methods Development
- Technology Testing and Evaluation
The Science Advisory Board’s Homeland Security Advisory Committee provides scientific and technical advice, through the chartered SAB, to the Administrator on matters pertaining to EPA’s mission in protecting against the environmental and health consequences of terrorism.
EPA is designated as the lead sector-specific agency for water and is responsible for protecting water systems and detecting and recovering from terrorist attacks affecting them. EPA’s Water Security Program web site provides information to help drinking water and wastewater utilities:
- Assess and reduce vulnerabilities to potential terrorist attacks
- Plan for and practice response to emergencies and incidents
- Develop new security technologies to detect and monitor contaminants and prevent security breaches and
- Identify grants and funding opportunities
Read more about Regional Water Security programs.
Water Protection Research being conducted by the National Homeland Security Research Center (NHSRC) is focused on developing products and providing expertise to protect, detect, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks on the nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure. The NHSRC’s Vulnerability Assessment Research Program focuses on developing software tools for water security, in particular, designing and evaluating mitigation methods such as water utility contamination warning systems.
Read more more about the NHSRC.