2.7 Notifications and Public Affairs

Click here for National Response Team (NR) Joint Information Center Model

2.7.1 Discovery

It is the spiller’s responsibility to report all spills. The spiller or responsible party is required to immediately report all releases of oil and hazardous substances into or on navigable water, adjoining shorelines, or the contiguous zone, to the National Response Center (NRC). The NRC will notify the appropriate OSC.

If U.S. EPA or USCG is the first to be notified of a release or discharge, they will notify the State, Local and Tribal entities and the NRC. Notification will also be made to other potentially affected EPA Regions, USCG sectors, and Canadian Provinces. OSC notification of trustees is accomplished through protocols developed via trustees-specific agreements. For spill of significance, if the State or other agency is the fist to be notified, they shall notify the appropriate Federal Agencies.

The objective is to promote timely and effective coordination among the entire spill response community including federal, state, tribal, local and private entities in response to an oil spill or hazardous substance release in Region 5.

For discharges or releases that fall outside the NRC notification protocols, if states are the first to be notified, the Department of the Interior requests notification by the state(s) through the RRT contact list of any significant discharges or releases that could significantly impact federal trust resources. These resources include threatened and endangered species, migratory birds and federal lands.

 

2.7.2 Public Information

All news releases or statements made by participating agencies shall be jointly coordinated and released through a public information office. The spokesperson shall notify, at a minimum, immediately affected citizens, local and State officials and, when appropriate, emergency management agencies. OSCs may consider use of the RRT5 to assist in media relations and other community involvement activities. Also, responsible parties may implement community involvement activities.

 

2.7.2.1 Public Information Assist Team (PIAT)

PIAT is one of the special forces mandated in the National Contingency Plan. The team provides emergency public information services to Federal On-Scene Coordinators, primarily during oil spills and hazardous material releases. The team also provides these services for natural disasters, domestic terrorism events and weapons of mass destruction events.

Access to PIAT resources is available at www.uscg.mil/hq/nsfweb/piat/piatcontact.asp

 

2.7.2.2 Crisis Communication Plan

The Crisis Communication Plan identifies the responsibilities of those gathering, organizing and releasing this information and establishes the process for coordinating efforts and meeting these demands through a well-defined dissemination process.

Information about Crisis Communication Planning and a template are available from Ready.Gov at www.ready.gov/business/implementation/crisis.

 

2.7.2.3 Emergency Support Function 15 – External Affairs (ESF 15)

ESF 15 ensures that sufficient Federal assets are deployed to the field during a potential or actual Incident of National Significance to provide accurate, coordinated, and timely information to affected audiences, including governments, media, the private sector, and the local populace. This annex details the establishment of support positions to coordinate communications to various audiences.

A description of ESF 15 can be found at the FEMA.gov website.

The Standard Operating Procedures for ESF 15 can be found at www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/34369.