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Disaster Response

EPA Response Resources

Reconnaissance airplanes
First responders to a disaster need information about chemical leaks. And they need it fast. A partnership between EPA and the Department of Defense led to the development of equipment mounted in a small aircraft, allowing the collection of detailed chemical information from a safe distance. The equipment, known as the Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology (ASPECT), is an emergency response sensor package operated by EPA's office in Dallas. The information ASPECT collects can immediately be sent to a ground unit giving emergency workers at the scene the data they need to safely respond to a disaster.

DataRAM air monitor
The DataRAM is a portable, battery-powered monitor often used in emergency response situations because it gives immediate readings of particulate matter levels in the air. The instrument continuously monitors and logs the real-time concentration and median particle size of airborne dust, smoke, mist and fumes. In addition, the air temperature and humidity are displayed and recorded.

Dive team
Since many environmental emergencies affect not only air and land but also water, EPA formed a dive team to retrieve materials and conduct sampling in lakes, reservoirs, and coastal areas. The team is trained to dive in contaminated, low-visibility water, and to perform diver rescue. EPA dive teams provide a wide variety of services including environmental monitoring, sampling and field investigation in support of research, environmental response and criminal and civil enforcement activities.

Infrared camera
Following an emergency, the EPA uses various modes of transportation, including helicopters equipped with a high-tech camera to detect chemical spills and leaks from a variety of sources as part of the rapid needs assessment. The camera can detect potentially hazardous chemical releases from tanks, barges, pipelines, rail cars, industrial facilities and other operations. Inspectors or emergency response personnel use the camera for follow-up investigations if releases are detected. The infrared camera is another tool in EPA's ongoing efforts to rapidly identify and address potential environmental threats in affected areas.

Laboratory
EPA's laboratory in Edison, N.J., is a vital part of Region 2 emergency response activities. The lab provides timely and accurate scientific analysis to help field personnel make sound decisions about response and recovery activities.

Helicopter and Boats
EPA's Coastal Crusader helicopter and two vessels survey New Jersey and New York's coastal waters for floating debris and take samples for water quality monitoring. Once debris is identified, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works to remove it.

National Decontamination Team
The National Decontamination Team is part of EPA's Office of Emergency Management. It uses state of the art decontamination technologies to help organizations and communities recover after wide-spread contamination.

Radiological Emergency Response Team
The Radiological Emergency Response Team (RERT) responds to emergencies involving releases of radioactive materials. Working closely with federal, state and local agencies, RERT responds to emergencies ranging from incidents at nuclear power plants, to transportation accidents involving radioactive materials, to deliberate acts of nuclear terrorism.

Trace atmospheric gas analyzer
In response to a disaster, EPA will use a self-contained mobile laboratory to monitor air quality. The mobile unit, named Trace Atmospheric Gas Analyzer (TAGA), is capable of real-time sampling and analysis. It can detect chemicals at very low parts-per-billion levels. TAGA also has specialized sampling equipment to use at remote locations and to measure indoor air quality. TAGA aids EPA's efforts to rapidly identify and address potential environmental threats in disaster areas.

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