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Home Historic Preservation Programs & Officers Federal Multiagency: National Contingency Plan Introduction Emergency Response Under the NCP
Emergency Response Under the National Contigency Plan
Federal law directs the President to ensure removal of a discharge of oil or hazardous substances. Implementing Executive Orders and regulations delegate this responsibility to the U.S. Coast Guard for coastal areas and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for inland areas. Each agency has On-Scene Coordinators (OSCs) who coordinate and direct emergency efforts by government at all levels to clean up such discharges.
Emergency response actions by OSCs are governed by the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), which sets the following national response priorities: safety of human life; stabilizing the situation to preclude the event from worsening; and containing and/or removing the spilled or released material to minimize impacts on the environment.
Although OSCs are "in charge" of response, Federal law places primary clean-up responsibility on the Responsible Partythe owner or operator of the facility or vessel from which the spill or release occurred. Further, under the NCP, OSCs work cooperatively with other Federal as well as State and local agencies with jurisdiction over or expertise in specific response activities. These parties collectively form the National Response System.
What is the National Response System?
The NRS is the mechanism for coordinating response actions by all levels of government in support of the OSC during an emergency pollution response. In addition to OSCs, it consists of:
How does the U.S. prepare for emergency response?
Planning and exercises are the primary emergency preparedness activities. Federal law requires preparation of an Area Contingency Plan (ACP) by the OSC in consultation with appropriate Federal, State, and local government representatives. The ACP describes what needs to be protected in the event of an emergency, the response structure that will be used in an emergency, and what resources are available to respond. The ACP is exercised every three years. Federal law also requires owners and operators of vessels and facilities that could be the source of an oil spill or hazardous substance release to prepare and regularly exercise emergency response plans.
Click here for the Programmatic Agreement on Protection of Historic Properties During Emergency Response Under the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan.