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What is the National Response Team?

The U.S. National Response Team (NRT) is an organization of 16 Federal departments and agencies responsible for coordinating preparedness, response and recovery activities for emergencies. These emergencies involve hazardous substances, pollutants and contaminants, oil, and weapons of mass destruction in natural and technological disasters, and other environmental incidents of national significance.

Actions are guided by federal frameworks for emergency response, primarily the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (National Contingency Plan, or NCP).

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) serve as Chair and Vice Chair, respectively.

Federal On-Site Coordinator

The federal, on-site coordinator is a federal official who manages all federal containment, removal, disposal efforts, and resources during an incident. The coordinator is advised by the NRT and by Regional Response Teams.

What Does the NRT Do?

The NRT is a planning, policy, and coordinating body. Before an incident, the NRT provides national-level policy guidance. During an incident, the NRT provides assistance to the federal on-site coordinator, usually in the form of technical advice or access to additional resources and equipment. The NRT also engages the private sector in its efforts.

When is the NRT Activated?

NRT is activated when an oil discharge or hazardous materials release exceeds the response capability in the region where it occurs; happens in more than one region; or involves a substantial threat to the public health or welfare of the United States, the environment, or substantial amounts of property.

What is the HHS Role on the Team?

HHS is a NRT member, and draws upon HHS Agencies for subject matter expertise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences provide worker health and safety assessment, recommendations, and training, while the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has established a surveillance system to evaluate human health exposures to hazardous substances in emergencies. During an incident, CDC and ATSDR advise the federal on-scene coordinator on human health threats and the prevention or mitigation of exposure to hazardous substances. In the case of a food safety hazard, the Food and Drug Administration is engaged to protect the food supply.