Emergencies, Accidents and Spills
An environmental emergency is a sudden threat to the public health, or the well-being of the environment, arising from the release or potential release of oil, radioactive materials, or hazardous chemicals into the air, land, or water. These emergencies may occur from transportation accidents, events at chemical or other facilities using or manufacturing chemicals, or as a result of natural or man-made disaster events. While there are many other serious environmental problems with which EPA is concerned, these activities are focused generally on sudden, immediate threats.
How do I Report Emergencies, Accidents and Acts of Terrorism?
Reporting takes only a few minutes. Call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.
To report on-line using the web, go to National Response Center website, or call the National Response Center phone number at 1-800-424-8802. This site also lists the information the National Response Center will need when you contact them. Other information about how the National Response Center functions can be found on their background page.
Who plans for and responds to these emergencies?
There is a complex system of responsibilities for these types of emergencies because there are many parts to them. In general, responsibilities are spread across the federal, state and local sectors, depending upon the size and type of the emergency and involve the environmental, emergency management, public safety, and public health agencies of the three levels of government. In addition, industry has a very important role to play in preparing for and responding to such emergencies.
Prevention and Preparedness - In response to the public concern about chemical spills and accidents, EPA created its Chemical Emergency Preparedness Program (CEPP) as a voluntary program to encourage State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) and Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) to identify hazards in their areas and to plan for potential chemical emergencies. This local planning complements emergency response planning carried out at the national and regional levels by the National Response Team and Regional Response Teams.
Chemical Spills - This page provides information on how EPA works with other partners to respond to Superfund emergencies.
Oil spills - This Web site provides information about the U.S. EPA’s program for preventing, preparing for, and responding to oil spills that occur in and around inland waters of the United States.
Homeland Security - This page provides links to information on an infrastructure that has been established to prepare and respond to acts and potential acts of terrorism.
The National Response Team is made up of fifteen federal agencies with responsibilities for preparing for, or responding to, major oil or hazardous chemical emergencies. EPA is the chair with the U.S Coast Guard as vice-chair, and corresponding regional teams are in each of the ten federal regions.
Area Contingency Teams are made up of regional representatives which specifically plan for oil spills.
The Federal Response Disaster Group is made up of over 30 federal agencies with responsibilities for preparing for or responding to major national disasters.
The Federal Radiological Preparedness Group is made up of 17 federal Departments and Agencies. They respond to radiological emergencies under the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan (FRERP).
The American Red Cross is America’s largest humanitarian organization, helping people each year prevent, prepare for and cope with emergencies.
More information can be found at EPA’s Report Spills and Environmental Violations page.