2.2.3 Federal Agency Responsibilities

The Federal Agencies listed in this section have duties established by statute, executive order, or Presidential directive which may apply to Federal response actions following, or in prevention of, the discharge of oil or release of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Some of these agencies also have duties relating to the rehabilitation, restoration, or replacement of natural resources injured or lost as a result of such discharge or release. It is recognized that Native American authorities, responders, and communities are entitled to the same cooperation and protection arrangements as the States. Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Forest Service is the designated USDA representative to RRT. USDA maintains a Regional Emergency Team in each of the 10 Standard Federal Regions to provide liaison and coordination with Federal Agencies operating on a Regional basis. Regional Emergency Teams are composed of representatives of USDA agencies having essential emergency functions at the Regional level. These are:

  • Forest Service (FS): Responsible for prevention and control of fires in rural areas, in cooperation with State Foresters and appropriate Federal Agencies; emergency production, availability, and utilization of timber and timber products in cooperation with the Department of Commerce. The agency has capabilities to provide emergency communications systems, specialized aircraft, and human support facilities for large groups of people, and has specially trained incident management teams.
  • Food and Nutrition Service (FNS): Through the Food Distribution Program, provides food as emergency assistance to disaster victims. In appropriate emergency situations, FNS will authorize State agencies to issue food stamps based on emergency procedure.
  • Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): Tests meat and poultry products for the presence of volatile drugs, chemical residues and other adulterants.
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS): Provides expertise on plant and animal diseases and health.
  • National Agricultural Statistics Service: Serves as a source of data on crops, livestock, poultry, dairy products and labor. State Statistical Offices collect and publish local information on these topics. Department of Commerce

DOC, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has three roles within Region 5:

  • Scientific Support Coordinator (SSC): In accordance with the NCP, the SSC provides scientific advice to support the Federal OSC in operational decisions that will protect the environment effectively, mitigate collateral harm, and facilitate environmental recovery. The SSC advises on other technical issues (as requested by the OSC) after consulting with the appropriate NOAA Emergency Response Division (ERD) resources or other Federal, State, or academic networks. This includes considering advice from the trustee agencies (including the NOAA ERD RRT member), and any divergent opinions.

  • National Resource Trustee: The Secretary of Commerce acts as trustee for natural resources managed or controlled by DOC, including their supporting ecosystems. 40 CFR 300.600(b), (b)(1). Pursuant to the Great Lakes Critical Programs Act of 1990, 33 USC 1268 (Great Lakes Act), and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978, as amended by the Water Quality Agreement of 1987 (Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement), the United States, in part through DOC, manages and/or controls the water and sediments of the Great Lakes System.

    The Secretary of Commerce also acts as trustee for natural resources managed or controlled by other federal agencies that are found in, under, or using waters navigable by deep draft vessels, tidally influenced waters, or waters of the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone, and the outer continental shelf. All federally managed or controlled resources that are found in these waters, such as water and sediments that form navigation channels and that are managed, controlled, and maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the fisheries that are controlled by the Food and Drug Administration through derivation of action levels, fall within DOC trusteeship. Similarly, the water and sediment of the Great Lakes System are within the administrative jurisdiction of the United States, and are federally managed or controlled pursuant to the Great Lakes Act and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

    The Secretary has delegated his authority to act as trustee to the Administrator of NOAA. Pursuant to these delegations, NOAA has trusteeship for the water, sediment, and biological resources of the Great Lakes and their supporting ecosystems. The NCP also cites as examples of DOC trusteeship the following natural resources and their supporting ecosystems: migratory birds, anadromous fish, and endangered species and marine mammals. 40 CFR 300.600(b)(1), (b)(2).

    Under OPA and the NCP, NOAA has specific responsibilities as a natural resource trustee that include

    • Receiving notification of potential or actual spills threatening NOAA resources
    • Being consulted on the preparation of the fish and wildlife and sensitive environments annex (this includes concurring on specific countermeasures or removal actions during the contingency planning phase)
    • Being consulted on removal actions during an incident
    • Implementing damage assessment activities

    All of these activities are intended to minimize impacts and to restore the environment.

  • RRT Member: Has the primary goal to support the appropriate RRT Co-Chair who supports the Federal OSC by providing advice and resources that will protect the environment effectively, mitigate collateral harm, and facilitate environmental recovery.

    Carries out this goal by

    • serving as an access point to other DOC resources and expertise, usually outside NOAA HAZMAT, that have primary roles in carrying out NOAA’s trusteeship role during spills;
    • representing DOC in carrying out its policy responsibilities (such as trusteeship);
    • helping the NOAA SSC provide technical assistance, if needed; and
    • representing NOAA HAZMAT at meetings where the SSC cannot be present.

    This member can provide:

    • scientific expertise on living aquatic resources for which DOC is responsible
    • current and predicted meteorological, hydrologic, ice, and limnologic conditions
    • charts and maps
    • communication services to the general public, various levels of government, and the media via its NOAA weather wire and NOAA weather radio systems

    These roles are the responsibility of all DOC representatives, whether from NOAA HAZMAT, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), or NOAA National Weather Service (NWS). Department of Defense

DOD, consistent with its operational requirements, may provide assistance in critical oil and hazardous materials incidents, the maintenance of navigation channels, and removal and salvage of navigation obstructions. DOD will provide the OSC and RRT5 Chair for releases occurring on DOD property or facilities and for all incidents involving DOD hazardous substances.

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE): Has specialized equipment and personnel for maintaining navigation channels, for removing navigational obstructions, for accomplishing structural repairs, and for performing maintenance to hydropower electric generating equipment. USACE can also provide design services, perform construction, and provide contract writing and contract administration services for other Federal Agencies.
  • U. S. Navy—Navy Region Midwest: The Commander, Navy Region Midwest is designated as the OSC for planning, preparedness and response to Navy oil and hazardous substance incidents occurring in Region 5. Navy Region Midwest has near-shore response vessels and equipment to support Navy incidents and for designated Civilian Support roles. Support to non-Navy spills requires Presidential tasking, Regional Response Team/National Response Team tasking, or request for support through Memorandum of Agreement with the USCG. The Navy maintains on-water response assets (utility and boom handling boats, rapid response skimmer, and containment boom) and trained Oil Spill Operations Teams at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois that can be deployed throughout Region 5. The Navy also has on-shore response equipment and trained staffs at Naval Support Activity Crane, Indiana and Naval Support Activity Mid-South, Tennessee. The Navy also has response capability for unexploded ordnance/ munitions response below the waterline at NSA Crane, Indiana.
  • U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage (SUPSALV): Is knowledgeable and experienced in ship salvage, shipboard damage control, diving, and has equipment for salvage-related and open-sea pollution incidents. Department of Energy

DOE provides the designated OSC/RPM for responses to releases on or from any facility or vessel under its jurisdiction. DOE administers, implements, and coordinates the Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center (FRMAC). Under the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan (FRERP), DOE provides advice and assistance to the RRT regarding the identification of the source and extent of radioactive contamination, and removal and disposal of radioactive releases. Federal Emergency Management Agency

FEMA requires the development, evaluation, and exercise of all-hazard contingency plans for all FEMA-funded jurisdictions at the State and local levels. SARA Title III plans are often annexes of the all-hazard plan. FEMA monitors and provides technical assistance regarding public sector emergency response training and planning for incidents involving hazardous materials. In a response, FEMA provides advice and assistance to the lead agency on coordinating relocation assistance and mitigation efforts with other Federal Agencies, State and local governments, and the private sector.

If the President declares a disaster or emergency, FEMA coordinates all Federal assistance, including temporary housing. The OSC coordinates with the Federal Coordinating Officer in situations where both authorities are active.

FEMA’s National Emergency Support Team and Regional Emergency Response Teams provide coordination of Federal response in situations of unique national significance, such as commercial nuclear power plant or nuclear weapons accidents and catastrophic natural disasters. General Services Administration

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) leverages the buying power of the federal government to acquire best value for taxpayers and its federal customers. GSA exercises responsible asset management. GSA delivers superior workplaces, quality acquisition services, and expert business solutions. GSA develops innovative and effective management policies.

In emergencies—as in everyday operations—GSA provides other federal agencies with what they need to do their jobs. GSA can go to the site of an incident and find suitable space for the response team to set up operations, furnish and equip the space, and set up telecommunications.

GSA is capable of providing:

  • Emergency relief supplies;
  • Facility space: GSA will ensure that a suitable operating facility, using pre-identified locations where applicable, is acquired and ready to occupy within 72 hours of receiving RRT5 requirements and/or RRT5 acceptance of the space.;
  • Office equipment: All required office furniture and equipment is provided from Federal inventories or commercial sources;
  • Office supplies: Office supplies and other expendables are provided from inventory or other government and commercial sources. Small businesses and vendors in the affected area are used whenever possible;
  • Telecommunications (in accordance with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) National Plan for Telecommunications Support in Non-Wartime Emergencies);
  • Contracting services: Support is provided as required to augment RRT5 and other agency procurement functions on a case-by-case basis, using GSA contracting resources;
  • Transportation services including short term leasing arrangements and ;
  • Personnel required to support immediate response activities: GSA makes available technical advisors (e.g., procurement, storage, transportation, and engineering advisory services specialists) in connection with damage surveys, appraisals, and building demolitions or repairs;
  • Support for requirements not specifically identified by other supporting agencies including excess and surplus property.

The GSA Regional Emergency Coordinator (REC) provides a team that may consist of one or more of the following: a REC and/or team leader, contracting officer, telecommunications specialist, and real estate/leasing specialist, if needed, to coordinate the provision of support at the incident site or operating location. Support may be furnished through GSA employees and contractor personnel who are located at the scene of the oil or hazardous material release, or at their regular duty stations, depending on the specific requirements of the emergency situation.

All acquisition and procurement activities by GSA are supported by written justification in accordance with current Federal laws and regulations (e.g., Federal Acquisition Regulations), which, when necessary, authorize other than "full and open competition." All procurement actions, including those for multimodal transportation services, are made in accordance with GSA’s statutory and administrative requirements, and use the appropriate fund citation/reimbursement procedures. Expenses incurred by GSA in providing requested assistance to other agencies must be reimbursed. Department of Health and Human Services

HHS assists with the assessment, preservation, and protection of human health and helps ensure the availability of essential human services. HHS provides technical and nontechnical assistance in the form of advice, guidance, and resources to other Federal Agencies, as well as to State and local governments.

The principal HHS response comes from the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). Within PHS, the primary response to hazardous materials emergencies comes from ATSDR and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Both ATSDR and CDC have 24-hour emergency response capability whereby scientific and technical personnel are available to provide technical assistance to the lead Federal Agency and State and local response agencies on human health threat assessment and analysis, and exposure prevention and mitigation. Such assistance is used in situations requiring evacuation of affected areas, dealing with human exposure to hazardous materials, or advice on mitigation and prevention.

  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: ATSDR is the lead Federal public health agency for hazardous material incidents under CERCLA. Two ATSDR representatives are assigned to each US EPA Region to assist in US EPA/ATSDR communications. Regional representatives can also assist in emergency response events that involve RRT5 issues by coordinating with ATSDR headquarters Emergency Response and Consultation Branch and with the CDC RRT5 representative. Under CERCLA Section 104(i), ATSDR is required to

    • establish appropriate disease/exposure registries
    • provide medical care and testing of exposed individuals in public emergencies
    • develop, maintain, and provide information on health effects of toxic substances
    • conduct research to determine relationships between exposure to toxic substances and illness
    • develop guidelines, with US EPA, for toxicological profiles for hazardous substances
    • develop educational materials for health professionals related to health effects of toxic substances

    Additionally, ATSDR operates a 24-hour phone line to address public health issues.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC takes the lead during oil releases regulated under CWA and OPA. PHS has designated the CDC representative to the RRT5. This person is responsible for coordinating all public health responses on the Federal level and for coordinating all responses with State and local health agencies.

Other PHS agencies involved in support during hazardous materials incidents, either directly or through ATSDR/CDC, include the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Indian Health Service, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Department of Homeland Security

DHS, through USCG, provides the Co-Chair of RRT5 and predesignated OSCs for the Great Lakes Coastal Zone and specified ports and harbors in Region 5, based on an MOU signed in 1992. Through USCG, the DHS

  • supplies expertise in the domestic/international fields of
    • port safety and security
    • marine law enforcement, navigation, and construction
    • manning, operation, and safety of vessels and marine facilities
  • maintains continuously manned facilities that are capable of command, control, and surveillance for oil or hazardous substances releases occurring on the waters of the United States, and may provide these services to the OSC Department of the Interior

DOI can provide information concerning the lands and resources specifically under DOI jurisdiction, as well as offer technical expertise related to geology, hydrology, minerals, fish and wildlife, cultural resources, and recreation resources. Under Executive Order 12580, DOI is designated by the NCP as a Federal Trustee for Natural Resources.

DOI has direct jurisdiction for protection of resources on its own lands, as well as trustee responsibilities for certain natural resources, regardless of location. The DOI natural resource trusteeship that extends beyond DOI site boundaries includes migratory birds, anadromous fish, and endangered/threatened species and their critical habitat.

Bureaus may provide assistance in investigations to evaluate the magnitude and severity of discharges on or affecting facilities or resources under their jurisdiction, and may conduct activities as natural resource trustees as set forth in Subpart G of the NCP.

Bureaus may also provide:

  • advice to the OSC/RPM when response operations are being performed that affect land, facilities, or natural resources under their management authority
  • technical assistance in disposal activities; however, lands under the jurisdiction of DOI (including certain municipal landfills) may not be utilized as disposal sites
  • air and ground transportation support, and maintenance of communications support

Within the Department, individual bureaus and offices have specific responsibilities and capabilities as follows:

  • Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance (OEPC): The Regional Environmental Officer (REO) represents DOI on the RRT5, and is responsible for coordinating RRT5/DOI activities. The Regional Environmental Assistant (REA) provides support to the REO in planning and emergency response and acts for the REO when unavailable. The Regional Coordinator (RC) provides planning and Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) coordination. OEPC provides a number of services, including
    • presenting the DOI position on chemical countermeasure and in situ burn decisions
    • facilitating technical assistance requests from the OSC
    • supplying administrative details to secure response cost reimbursement approval from the OSC
    • initiation of natural resource damage assessments (NRDAs)
    • coordinating response between DOI Bureaus
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS): Can provide responders with information concerning migratory birds, Federally listed threatened and endangered species and their designated critical habitat, certain anadromous fish, and certain Federal lands (National Wildlife Refuges, Waterfowl Production Areas, and National Fish Hatcheries), as well as technical assistance concerning the effects of oil on these resources. In addition, it will help coordinate wildlife rescue and rehabilitation efforts in conjunction with State natural resource trustee(s). The Service is responsible for assessing damages to natural resources as a result of releases of oil or hazardous substances into the environment, and issues Federal Migratory Bird and Eagle Permits to qualified individuals and/or organizations conducting wildlife collection, rescue, and rehabilitation operations related to oil spill incidents.
  • National Park Service (NPS): Provides expertise on historic, cultural, archeological, architectural, and recreational resources and sites on the National Register of Historic Places. NPS can also provide information on National Parks, National Recreation Areas, National Historic Sites, National Trails, Lake Shores, National Monuments, and Wild and Scenic Rivers listed on the Nationwide Rivers Inventory (NRI).
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS): Provides advice and information concerning geohydrologic, geologic, and geochemical data; ground and surface water data; and maps. USGS maintains stream flow gauges in every State and can provide historical stream flow information, assist in predicting the time/travel/trajectory of spills, and can collect and analyze surface and groundwater samples.
  • The Biological Resources Division performs research in support of biological resource management; inventories, monitors, and reports on the status and trends in the nation’s biologic resources; and transfers the information gained to resource managers and others concerned with the care, use, and conservation of the nation’s natural resources.

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA): Responsible for protecting and improving the trust resources of Native American Tribes and facilitating an active role in planning and response for Tribal governments as requested. BIA coordinates activities affecting Native American Tribal lands, and can provide assistance to the OSC in identifying Native American Tribal government officials. BIA can also assist in obtaining access to Tribal land areas as needed for response action and will coordinate with the incident Public Information Office Director to ensure pertinent information is made available to appropriate Tribal authorities on a timely basis.
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM): Has expertise in minerals, soils, vegetation, archeology, and wildlife habitat, and may provide advice on response affecting lands or minerals administered by BLM. May also provide advice in the field of oil and gas drilling, production, handling, and transportation by pipeline.

All bureaus of the Department of the Interior may be contacted through the Regional Environmental Officer, the designated member of the RRT5. Department of Justice

DOJ members of the RRT5 serve as representatives of the Department of Justice and not as legal counsel to the RRT5 or its member agencies. Although the DOJ representative to the RRT5 is not a substitute for member agencies’ in-house counsel, the DOJ representative will be able to offer the advice, views, and expertise of the Department with respect to RRT5’s long-term planning and incident-specific functions.

As a consequence of DOJ’s primary role as litigation counsel for the Federal Government and as legal counsel on enforcement and interagency matters, its participation in RRT5 activities will ordinarily focus on litigation concerns regarding response activities and interagency coordination. The DOJ representative might provide

  • general legal advice
  • review and comment on regional planning and procedural documents
  • incident-specific assistance, including assigning staff attorneys when an incident may result in litigation or raise difficult issues of interagency coordination Department of Labor

DOL, through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

  • conducts safety and health inspections at hazardous waste sites and during emergencies to ensure that employees are being protected and to determine compliance with its regulations, and
  • provides the OSC/RPM with advice, guidance, and assistance regarding hazards to persons involved in removal or control of oil or chemical spills, and the precautions necessary to protect such persons’ health and safety. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will

  • respond, as appropriate, to releases of radioactive materials by its licensees, in accordance with the NRC Incident Response Plan to monitor the actions of those licensees and assure that the public health and environment are protected and adequate recovery operations are instituted;
  • keep US EPA informed of any significant actual or potential releases in accordance with procedural agreements; and
  • provide advice to the OSC/RPM when assistance is required in identifying the source or character of other hazardous substance releases where the NRC has licensing authority for activities utilizing radioactive materials. Department of State

DOS will

  • lead in developing joint international contingency plans
  • provide assistance in coordination when a pollution release crosses international boundaries or involves foreign flag vessels
  • coordinate requests for assistance from the Canadian and U.S. Governments on proposals for conducting research at incidents that occur in Canadian waters Department of Transportation

DOT, through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), establishes oil discharge contingency planning requirements for pipelines, transport by rail and containers, or bulk transport of oil. Environmental Protection Agency

US EPA provides the Co-Chair of RRT5 and provides OSCs for all inland areas for which an ACP is required. US EPA also generally provides the Support Center for responses in the inland zone.

US EPA is responsible for providing expertise regarding environmental effects of pollution and environmental pollution control techniques. US EPA will also

  • assist USCG in hazardous materials incidents
  • advise the RRT5 and the OSC of the degree of hazard a particular release poses to public health and safety
  • coordinate scientific support, including environmental assessment, in inland regions