FWS National Contingency Plan


As mandated by OPA and described in the NCP, the Service is a key natural resource trustee with the authority to pursue the “immediate and effective protection, rescue, and rehabilitation of, and minimization of risk of damage to, fish and wildlife and their habitat that are harmed or may be jeopardized by a discharge”.

Fish and Wildlife Service personnel have a dual role in oil spill response – pre-spill planning and actual response. This chapter will:

• Identify key Service personnel;

• Describe their responsibilities related to planning and response; and

• Discuss how they fit into the planning and response structure and process.

The Service also has Natural Resource Damage Assessment responsibilities during an oil spill incident. These are briefly described in Chapter 9 with further details in Appendix W.

National Spill Response Coordinator (NSRC)

The NSRC is located in the Washington Headquarters within the Division of Environmental Quality and is primarily responsible for planning and coordinating the Service’s spill response program activities. The NSRC’s roles and responsibilities include:

Pre-Spill Planning:

• Develop and maintain the Service’s National Spill Response Contingency Plan;

• Develop Service guidance for spill response issues with national significance and application;

• Participate on a working group coordinated by OEPC and including the other DOI bureau national spill response coordinators to develop standardized response guidance;

• Participate on the NRT Science and Technology Committee;

• Provide information, guidance, and technical support to the Service’s Regional Spill Response Coordinators (RSRC’s).

Spill Response:

• Monitor the NRC Incident Report Summaries and ensure that RSRC’s have been notified of large spills and Spills Of National Significance (SONS);

• Coordinate with RSRC’s, OEPC and other Bureau NSRC’s as necessary, and brief Washington Office staff, Office of the Secretary, and Bureau Directors;

• Be available to the Regions including providing on-site support.

Post-Spill Response:

• Following the cleanup of a nationally significant discharge or release, the NSRC must conduct an incident debrief/critique with the RSRC to determine what worked well and what requires improvement or change;

• Distribute final spill report to the appropriate Department and Service personnel and the OSC.

Regional Spill Response Coordinator (RSRC)

The RSRC is responsible for coordinating all regional pre-spill planning, spill notification and evaluation, spill response, and post-spill activities. The RSRC gives direct guidance to Service field response personnel and ensures that Service Field Offices participate in the identification, protection, and rehabilitation of the threatened and injured natural resources. The RSRC has the option of going on-site and actively participating in the spill response. Therefore, it is imperative that the RSRC be knowledgeable in all procedures and protocols required to effectively respond to spill incidents. The RSRC’s roles and responsibilities include:

Pre-spill Planning:

• Coordinate with the Department of Interior’s Regional Environmental Officer and other DOI bureaus;

• Coordinate Service participation in Area Contingency Planning, including development of the fish, wildlife, and sensitive environments plan annex;

• Maintain the Service’s regional call-out lists for spill response notification;

• Ensure that all Service response personnel are adequately trained, including Incident Command System (ICS) management training and safety, are safely equipped, and are qualified for the activities they are called on to perform;

• Remain current in all required training elements, including participation in spill exercises.

Spill Response:

• Evaluate all pollution reports and spill response situation reports;

• Determine what level of response, if any, is necessary to protect and respond to potentially threatened or injured fish, wildlife, sensitive environments, and refuge lands;

• If appropriate, contact the FOSC to request Service participation in the spill response;

• Notify appropriate Service field response personnel including Ecological Services Field Office, Fish Hatchery or Refuge responders, Law Enforcement officials, Regional Safety Officer, and Public Affairs;

• Ensure that resources at risk are clearly identified and communicated to the On-Scene Coordinator;

• Access the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund through the DOI REO or assist field response personnel in doing so;

• Participate in the ICS command post, as necessary;

• Coordinate Service personnel, cost documentation, and administrative activities;

• Coordinate and/or oversee wildlife response and evaluate potential wildlife rescue and rehabilitation groups (See Appendix D);

• Initiate NRDA pre-assessment and coordinate all spill activities with the NRDAR Coordinator;

Post-Spill Response:

• Ensure all Service personnel return safely;

• Coordinate agency debrief;

• Prepare or oversee preparation of a final official Service spill report;

• Coordinate submission of Service cost documentation package to the OSLTF through the Denver Finance Center for reimbursement.

Field Spill Response Coordinator (FSRC)

Each field unit should have a primary and secondary Field Spill Response Coordinator. The FSRC coordinates with the RSRC to identify resources-at-risk and ensure that Service trust resources are adequately evaluated and protected throughout the spill response. The FSRC’s roles and responsibilities include:

Pre-spill Planning:

• Assist with the development of fish, wildlife, and sensitive environments annexes for applicable Area Contingency Plans;

• Remain current in all required training elements including the attendance of spill exercises;

• Coordinate with the RSRC to ensure that local field response personnel are adequately trained, including Incident Command System (ICS) management training and safety, are safely equipped, and are qualified for the activities they are called on to perform;

Spill Response:

• Coordinate with the RSRC;

• Notify local field response personnel and coordinate with the RSRC to ensure notification of all appropriate Service personnel;

• Identify resources at risk and ensure that Service trust resources are being adequately addressed by the spill response;

• Request a Pollution Removal Funding Authorization (PRFA) through the DOI REO as appropriate;

• Provide wildlife response information to the On-Scene Coordinator and participate in the ICS as necessary;

• Direct Service on-scene field activities including oversight of carcass collection, wildlife rescue, and rehabilitation;

• Supervise and/or designate qualified Service personnel to supervise each area of the fish and wildlife response efforts;

• Designate qualified Service personnel to participate on habitat assessment and shoreline cleanup teams as appropriate, particularly when Service trust resources are involved.

Post-Spill Response:

• Provide complete and comprehensive spill response cost documentation to the RSRC;

• Assist in debrief activities and in the preparation of a final spill report.

Field Unit Responders

Service field personnel located in Ecological Services Field Offices, Refuges, Fisheries Resource Offices, and Hatcheries generally have immediate access to and provide the natural resource information necessary to successfully conduct Service spill response activities. Field Unit personnel have knowledge of the local fish and wildlife, their habitats and sensitive environments, and refuge lands. In many instances, Field Unit personnel are the first to arrive on-scene and it is vital that they have the appropriate safety and response training to identify risks to their personal safety and the ability to identify resources at risk from a spill incident. Field Unit responder roles and responsibilities include:

• Remain current in all required training elements in order to ensure personal safety in a spill incident;

• Provide the OSC, through the FSRC, current and relevant information for natural resources at risk from a spill including seasonal information, fish, wildlife, sensitive habitats, refuge lands, and users present;

• Have a basic understanding of spill response activities and be familiar with the relevant Area Contingency Plan.

• Coordinate and communicate all activities with the FSRC or RSRC as appropriate.

Public Affairs Office (PAO)

During a major spill, it is the primary goal of the PAO is to provide the public with timely and accurate information regarding Service activities, interests, and trust resource spill related details. The PAO representative may operate within the Incident Command System, but only through the Information Officer or the Joint Information Center. Roles and responsibilities of the PAO include:

• Report on spill-related Service activities, interests, and trust resources;

• Clear all reports through the Joint Information Center or Information Officer;

• Prepare Service personnel for interviews with journalists;

• Coordinate information releases with the RSRC or FSRC, the REO, and other Federal and State agencies as appropriate.

Law Enforcement (LE)

The Regional Service Law Enforcement office will be notified by the RSRC or FSRC as appropriate of spill incidents that affect or could potentially affect Service trust resources. LE personnel involved in spill response activities should know the basics of spill response and be familiar with the Area Contingency Plan and the roles of the RSRC and FSRC. The Office of Law Enforcement will:

• Check all permits of incident related wildlife rescue and rehabilitation groups;

• Serve as evidence custodians, maintaining chain-of-custody and shipping samples to the National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, WI, for analysis;

• Assist the On-Scene Coordinator in conducting investigations into the source or cause of the spill under the auspices of the controlling law protecting the affected wildlife;

• Assist in ensuring that response activities are carried out in a manner consistent with wildlife laws, such as the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and

• Coordinate activities with the OSC through the RSRC or FSRC.

See Appendix J for more information on Law Enforcement responsibilities and a data base for logging collected oiled birds.

Safety Officer

The Regional Service Safety Manager is responsible for ensuring the adequacy of safety and protection measures for Service personnel involved in spill response activities in their area of responsibility. On larger, more complicated spill incidents, the Service Safety Officer should be consulted by the RSRC or FSRC as appropriate and may be required to perform a site visit to evaluate safety measures. The Safety Officer’s roles and responsibilities include:

• Coordinating with RSRC or FSRC as appropriate when Service personnel are responding to a spill incident;

• Ensuring that proper protection and safety equipment and supplies are available to Service personnel (See Appendix U);

• Confirming that appropriate training requirements have been met for Service spill responders (See Appendix T);

• Ensuring that untrained Service staff acquire the necessary training to allow them to participate in Service response activities;

• Coordinating through the Incident Command Safety Officer to obtain a copy of the incident Health and Safety Plan for employee information and incident documentation;

• If Service operations are not covered in the incident Health and Safety Plan, then the Service Safety Officer should develop a Health and Safety Plan specific to Service personnel and their duties (See Appendix V);

• Coordinating and managing aviation safety when the incident requires Service personnel to use aircraft;

• Completing an Aviation Risk Assessment and Management form prior to Service personnel commencing aircraft operations.

Last updated: February 14, 2013