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Incident/Emergency Response

The petroleum products and hazardous substances that fuel our prosperity can, in a heartbeat, or over many years, pollute the environment, threaten health, curtail economic activity, and disrupt safety and security. It does not matter whether the incident resulted from an accident, an intentional act, or a result of a natural disaster. There is a never-ending need to prepare for, guard against, and effectively respond to incidents that regularly arise during the manufacture, transport, storage, use, or misuse of hazardous materials. USDA R&R plays a key role in responding to emergency situations on USDA-managed lands which involve discharges of oil and releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants. Past emergencies of national significance where USDA has provided assistance include: oil spills such as the Exxon Valdez, and New Carissa, the Columbia Space shuttle recovery, Hurricane Katrina, and the Gulf oil spill recovery efforts.

USDA is the steward of 193 million acres of land of which 300,000 miles of roadways and rail systems criss-cross these public lands.  Additionally, these lands serve multiple interests including resource extraction for minerals, oil, and gas. Consequently, USDA must be prepared for incidents where releases of hazardous substances or oil spills occur on USDA managed lands. USDA also plays a critical role in responding to emergencies by providing technical and logistics assistance to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard.

Responsibilities include:

  • Represent USDA on the National Response Team.
  • Participate on the Regional Response Teams and assist the Forest Service in representing USDA.
  • Represent USDA on the Department of Homeland Security National Response Plan Emergency Support Function #10 (Oil and Hazardous Substances) and assist USDA on ESF #11 Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Provide information and training to emergency support personnel as needed and maintain current contact information.
  • Provide personnel availability 24 hours a day, seven days a week for emergency response activation for the National Response Plan, the National Response Team and the Intra-Departmental emergency efforts of the USDA Office of Homeland Security and the USDA Operations Center.