2.2. Federal Response

2.2.1 Federal OSC Responsibilities

The Federal OSC directs Federal response efforts and coordinates all other Federal efforts at the scene of a discharge or release. The OSC may monitor local, Tribal, State, or private actions to remove a discharge, and may provide technical assistance to local, Tribal, State, or RP response personnel.

If a response action is being conducted through local, Tribal, State, or responsible party efforts, the OSC will ensure adequate oversight. If local, Tribal, or State agencies or the responsible party cannot or will not initiate action to eliminate the threat, or if the removal is not being conducted properly, the OSC should advise the government agency or responsible party and take appropriate actions to mitigate or remove the threat or discharge.

When the OSC has determined that a discharge poses or may present a substantial threat to public health or welfare, he/she is authorized by the NCP to direct all private, State, or Federal actions to remove the discharge or to mitigate or prevent the threat of such a discharge. In addition, the OSC may remove or arrange for the removal of the discharge to mitigate or prevent the substantial threat of the discharge; the OSC may remove and, if necessary, destroy a vessel that is discharging or threatening to discharge, without regard for any other provision of law governing contracting procedures or employment of personnel by the Federal Government (40 CFR 300.322).

Upon receipt of notification of a discharge or release, the OSC is responsible for conducting a preliminary assessment to determine the following items:

  1. threat to human health and the environment;
  2. the responsible party and its capability to conduct the removal; and
  3. feasibility of removal or the mitigation of impact.

OSC responsibilities in the event of a discharge or release include the following items:

  1. Coordinate with appropriate Federal Agencies and funding to permit timely removal actions;
  2. Notify the appropriate State and Federal Agencies. OSC notification responsibilities are discussed in further detail in subsection 2.10 of this plan (p. 31).
  3. Determine whether proper response actions have been initiated. If the party responsible for the release or spill does not act promptly in accordance with the directions of the OSC or does not take appropriate actions, or if the party is unknown, the OSC shall respond in accordance with provisions of the NCP and agency guidance, and coordinate activities as outlined in this RCP/ACP.
  4. Collect information concerning the discharge or release:
    • its source and cause;
    • potentially responsible parties;
    • the nature, amount, location, direction, and time of discharge;
    • pathways to human and environmental exposure;
    • potential impact on human health, welfare, and safety, and the environment;
    • possible impact on natural resources and property;
    • priorities for protecting human health and welfare and the environment; and
    • estimated cost for the response.
  5. Certifying the financial responsibility of vessel owners and operators.
  6. Consult with and inform the RRT5 members of reported discharges and releases through Pollution Reports in Message Format (POLREPs).
  7. Consult with the appropriate Regional or District office regarding situations potentially requiring temporary or permanent relocation. In the event of a declared Federal disaster, coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) as appropriate.
  8. Implement appropriate community relations activities.
  9. Address worker health and safety issues prior to and during a response operation, and comply with all worker health and safety regulations.
  10. Coordinate with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), as deemed necessary, regarding possible public health threats.
  11. Coordinate with the US EPA Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (ORIA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) in emergencies involving radiological hazards.

As requested by the NRT or RRT5, the OSC shall submit to the RRT5 a complete report on the removal operation and the actions taken. The report shall record:

  • the situation as it develops,
  • the actions taken,
  • the resources committed, and
  • the problems encountered.