Federal Response Plans
Federal plans specify both how emergency response organizations will work together and what will actually happen during an emergency response operation. Advance planning for emergencies can help minimize potential public health and environmental threats. The planning process helps emergency response organizations think through how they would respond to each type of incident and the resources that would be needed.
EPA works with other federal agencies (both military and civilian), state and local governments, industry, and even other countries to develop emergency response plans and procedures. The following are some key federal plans that guide EPA’s efforts:
- National Oil & Hazardous Substances Contingency Plan
- National Infrastructure Protection Plan
- National Response Framework
The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan more commonly called the National Contingency Plan or NCP, is the federal government's plan for responding to both oil spills and releases of hazardous substances (including radioactive materials).
- The NCP is also one of EPA's core mission authorities.
EPA is the "Sector Specific" lead for the water sector under the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP). The NIPP and supporting Sector-Specific Plans (SSPs) provide a coordinated approach to critical infrastructure and key resources protection roles and responsibilities for federal, state, local, tribal, and private sector security partners.
EPA's response to disasters or emergencies declared by the President is facilitated through the Department of Homeland Security's National Response Framework (NRF), formerly known as the National Response Plan.
The NRF presents the guiding principles that enable all response partners to prepare for and provide a unified national response to disasters and emergencies - from the smallest incident to the largest catastrophe. The NRF:
- Defines the key principles, roles, and structures that organize the way we respond as a Nation to emergencies
- Describes how communities, tribes, States, the Federal Government, and private-sector and nongovernmental partners apply these principles for a coordinated, effective national response.
Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) provide the structure for coordinating Federal interagency support for a Federal response to an incident. They are mechanisms for grouping functions most frequently used to provide Federal support to States and Federal-to-Federal support, both for declared disasters and emergencies under the Stafford Act and for non-Stafford Act incidents.
EPA’s response efforts are coordinated under the NRF, through the Agency’s role as the Coordinator and Primary Agency for Oil and Hazardous Materials Response, under ESF #10. EPA is also a support agency for a number of other ESFs. ESFs that incorporate EPA involvement are indicated below by highlighted column and an asterisk, and described in greater detail below.
|ESF #1 :||Transportation|
|ESF #2 :||Communications|
|ESF #3* :||Public Works and Engineering|
|ESF #4* :||Firefighting|
|ESF #5* :||Emergency Management|
|ESF #6 :||Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Housing, and Human Services|
|ESF #7 :||Logistics Management and Resource Support|
|ESF #8* :||Public Health and Medical Services|
|ESF #9 :||Search and Rescue|
|ESF #10* :||Oil and Hazardous Materials|
|ESF #11* :||Agriculture and Natural Resource|
|ESF #12* :||Energy|
|ESF #13* :||Public Safety and Security|
|ESF #14* :||Long-Term Community Recovery|
|ESF #15* :||External Affairs|
- Coordinates, integrates, and manages the overall Federal effort to detect, identify, contain, decontaminate, clean up, dispose or minimize discharges of oil or releases of hazardous materials, or prevent, mitigate, or minimize the threat of potential releases.
- Provides OSCs for incidents within its jurisdiction.
- Manages EPA special teams under the NCP, including the Environmental Response Team, National Decontamination Team, and Radiological Emergency Response Team, which provide specialized technical advice and assistance to responders.
- Coordinates, integrates, and provides investigative support, intelligence analysis, and legal expertise on environmental statutes related to oil and hazardous materials incidents, including regarding criminal cases, in support of responders.
- Manages the National Counter-Terrorism Evidence Response Team, composed of investigative and scientific personnel to provide investigative, scientific, and forensic technical advice, assistance, and other threat assessment in support of responders.
Read more about the ESF #10 (PDF) .
- Conducts infrastructure protection activities for drinking water and water treatment agencies in the water sector, in accordance with its responsibilities as the designated Sector-Specific Agency for this sector as described in Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7.
- Assists, in conjunction with HHS, in determining the suitability for human consumption of water from local sources and in identifying hazardous materials having the potential to affect drinking water supplies.
- Assists in identifying critical water and wastewater needs, including personnel, electrical power, and treatment chemicals.
- Assists, in conjunction with State/tribal primacy agencies and permitting authorities, in determining the operating status of water and wastewater systems.
- Provides assistance to State solid waste agencies regarding municipal solid waste landfills and construction and demolition waste landfills. Provides technical assistance for nonhazardous waste management, including debris management and recycling/reuse opportunities. Assists State solid waste agencies with assessments of staging/storage areas, solid waste facilities, and wastewater facilities; environmental sampling and monitoring; and inspections, resources, data, and other support as appropriate.
- Identifies locations of, and provides safety guidance for, areas affected by hazardous materials.
- For chemical, biological, and radiological weapons of mass destruction incidents, coordinates with ESF #3 on management of contaminated debris and demolition.
- Assists in investigation and intelligence analysis for hazardous materials incidents involving contaminated water and wastewater systems, pursuant to existing EPA statutory authorities.
- Provides expertise on waste and debris disposal options.
Read more about the ESF #3 (PDF).
- Provides technical assistance and advice in the event of fires involving hazardous materials.
- Provides assistance in identifying an uncontaminated, operational water source for firefighting.
- Provides assistance in identifying critical water systems requiring priority restoration for firefighting.
- Provides technical assistance on issues concerning the impacts of firefighting chemicals on wastewater treatment facilities.
Read more about the ESF #4 (PDF).
- Support agencies provide expert personnel to the multiagency coordination centers, as requested, to assist with the delivery of Federal resources and provide reports to the respective Planning Section. All agencies, as appropriate, identify staff liaisons or points of contact to provide technical and subject-matter expertise, data, advice, and staff support for operations that fall within the domain of each agency. Support capabilities of other organizations may be used as required and available.
Read more about the ESF #5 (PDF).
- Provides technical assistance and environmental information for the assessment of the public health/medical aspects of situations involving hazardous materials, including technical and policy assistance in matters involving water and wastewater systems, for critical health care facilities.
- Provides support for public health matters for radiological incidents through the FRMAC and the Advisory Team for Environment, Food, and Health.
- Assists in identifying alternate water supplies and wastewater collection and treatment for critical health care facilities.
- Provides environmental technical assistance (e.g., air monitoring) and information in the event temporary interment is necessary and/or human remains are contaminated.
Read more about the ESF #8 (PDF).
- Provides technical assistance, subject-matter expertise, and support for biological, chemical, and other hazardous agents on contaminated facility remediation, environmental monitoring, and contaminated agriculture (animal/crops) and food product decontamination and disposal.
- Provides surge capacity for laboratory and diagnostic support.
- Works with USDA, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the private sector to identify suitable and available antimicrobial and other pesticides to be used to treat and decontaminate crops, environmental surfaces, and water. Approves the use of these pesticides.
- In the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency, supports the FRMAC during the initial phase of the emergency and leads the FRMAC for the later phases. Also provides protective action assistance through the Advisory Team for the Environment, Food, and Health.
- Provides investigative support and intelligence analysis for incidents involving oil or hazardous materials pursuant to existing EPA statutory authorities.
- Provides technical assistance in determining when water is suitable for human consumption.
Read more about the ESF #11 (PDF).
- Responds to requests from State and local officials for EPA to exercise enforcement discretion to waive environmental requirements for motor vehicle fuel in order to address supply shortages, normally in the context of natural disasters or significant disruptions in the fuel production or distribution systems.
- Coordinates the collection of motor vehicle fuel supply information necessary to evaluate an enforcement discretion request.
- Assists in identifying critical water and wastewater systems requiring priority power restoration.
Read more about the ESF #12 (PDF).
- Through the Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training, which incorporates the Homeland Security Division (HSD), the National Counter-Terrorism Evidence Response Team/Counter-Terrorism Response Team, the Criminal Investigation Division (CID), and the National Enforcement Investigation Center (NEIC), EPA provides assistance as follows:
- HSD: Law enforcement arm of EPA that provides counter-terrorism support to EPA programs and other Federal law enforcement using specialized training.
- National Counter-Terrorism Evidence Response Team/Counter-Terrorism Response Team: Specialized evidence response teams for EPA trained in forensic evidence preservation and collection in a contaminated environment for a wide range of hazardous materials.
- CID: Law enforcement arm of EPA that investigates allegations of criminal violations of all Federal environmental statutes.
- NEIC: Technical support center for EPA enforcement and compliance assurance programs nationwide that specializes in forensic analysis of industrial chemicals.
Read more about the ESF #13 (PDF).
- Provides technical assistance in contaminated debris management, environmental remediation, and watershed protection, planning, management, and restoration.
- Provides technical assistance in developing appropriate drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects and in identifying financial assistance options.
- Provides technical assistance on using environmentally sound and sustainable approaches in rebuilding businesses and communities.
Read more about the ESF #14 (PDF).
- Depending on the nature and scope of the incident, all Federal departments and agencies support the National Response Framework and are responsible for providing appropriate support for ESF #15 as required.
Read more about the ESF #15 (PDF).