Special Topics in Environmental Management

Oil Spill Response Plans Cheat Sheet

National Plans

For those rare spills that require a national response, the National Contingency Plan (NCP) is activated, bringing the collective expertise of various federal agencies together to contain and clean up the release or spill. The NCP differs somewhat from the other types of contingency plans in that it provides the framework for the National Response System and the way in which the different levels of responding organizations coordinate their efforts.

Regional Plans

Regional response teams (RRTs), working with the states, must develop federal Regional Contingency Plans for each standard federal region, Alaska, Oceania in the Pacific, and the Caribbean to coordinate timely, effective response by various federal agencies and other organizations to discharges of oil or releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants. An RRT consists of a standing team made up of representatives of each federal agency that is a member of the National Response Team, as well as state and local government representatives, and also an incident-specific team made up of members of the standing team that is activated for a response.

Regional Contingency Plans must include information on all useful facilities and resources in the region, from government, commercial, academic, and other sources. Regional Contingency Plans must follow the format of the National Contingency Plans and be coordinated with state emergency response plans, Area Contingency Plans, and local emergency response plans. Regional Contingency Plans must contain lines of demarcation between inland and coastal zones, as mutually agreed on by USCG and EPA.

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Area Plans

Area plans are often brought into action when facilities are unable to handle spills on their own. Under OPA, area committees composed of federal, state, and local government agencies must prepare contingency plans that include detailed information about resources (such as equipment and trained response personnel) available from the government agencies in the area. They also describe the roles and responsibilities of each responding agency during a spill incident and how the agencies will respond if they are called on in an emergency. These plans also describe how two or more areas might interact, such as when a spill occurs in a river that flows between areas, to ensure that a spill is controlled and cleaned up in a timely and safe manner.

Multiagency Response Plans

Facilities may also be subject to state emergency response planning requirements. Facilities should coordinate their emergency response plans with state and local agencies to ensure compliance with any additional regulatory requirements.

EPA has published the NRT Integrated Contingency Plan Guidance ("one plan"). The Guidance is intended to consolidate the multiple plans into one functional emergency response plan that facilities need to comply with various regulations. Copies of the Guidance are available by calling EPA’s Oil Spill Program Information Line at 800-424-9346.

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SPCC Plans

EPA requires certain facilities to develop and implement SPCC Plans. Unlike oil spill contingency plans that typically address spill cleanup measures after a spill has occurred, SPCC Plans ensure that facilities put in place containment and other countermeasures that would prevent oil spills that could reach navigable waters.

Facilities must detail and implement spill prevention and control measures in their SPCC Plans. A spill contingency plan is required as part of the SPCC Plan if a facility is unable to provide secondary containment (e.g., berms surrounding the oil storage tank).

See these popular Environmental Daily Advisor articles to help you write and implement your SPCC plan.

See tomorrow’s Advisor for more oil spill plans you may be required to keep.

1 thought on “Oil Spill Response Plans Cheat Sheet”

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