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Maintaining Response Readiness

Responding Agencies

Because a hazardous substance release or an oil spill could occur virtually anywhere and at any time, EPA and a network of federal, state, and local responders stand ready 24 hours a day to contain and clean-up the discharged oil and released chemicals. EPA's Emergency Response program has a leadership role in this National Response System that promotes coordinated emergency response actions and guarantees the availability of resources to cover all possible release scenarios. This coordination allows federal, state, and local agencies to work together to respond to all emergencies efficiently. EPA also provides other financial and technical support as needed to assist local communities in responding to the broad range of emergency response incidents that may occur.

Contingency Planning

One of EPA's major tasks is to coordinate contingency planning efforts with other agencies to ensure that emergency responses are carried out quickly and with maximum effectiveness. To further ensure the readiness of its response teams, EPA provides training to emergency responders so that they have the necessary skills and use appropriate precautions when undertaking emergency response measures.

Contingency plans describe the information and processes for responding to hazardous substance emergencies, including the roles and responsibilities of the different responding agencies, the location and availability of response resources, the process for conducting the response, and other actions necessary to ensure a safe and effective cleanup. When used properly by trained personnel, a well-designed contingency plan enables response efforts to proceed smoothly and effectively, minimizes danger to cleanup personnel, reduces overall costs of cleanup by avoiding unnecessary effort, and ensures the protection of human health and the environment. Because the approaches and methods for responding to releases are constantly evolving, contingency plans also are constantly evolving and improving.

A network of contingency plans with different levels of geographical scope form the backbone of our country's efforts to prepare for and coordinate responses to emergency incidents:

Taken together, these activities and resources form the cornerstone of our country's ability to respond to hazardous substance emergencies regardless of their nature, size, or location.

Contact the Emergency Response webmaster to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

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