The Federal OSC directs Federal response efforts and coordinates all other Federal efforts at the scene of a discharge or release. The OSC may monitor local, Tribal, State, or private actions to remove a discharge, and may provide technical assistance to local, Tribal, State, or RP response personnel.
If a response action is being conducted through local, Tribal, State, or responsible party efforts, the OSC will ensure adequate oversight. If local, Tribal, or State agencies or the responsible party cannot or will not initiate action to eliminate the threat, or if the removal is not being conducted properly, the OSC should advise the government agency or responsible party and take appropriate actions to mitigate or remove the threat or discharge.
When the OSC has determined that a discharge poses or may present a substantial threat to public health or welfare, he/she is authorized by the NCP to direct all private, State, or Federal actions to remove the discharge or to mitigate or prevent the threat of such a discharge. In addition, the OSC may remove or arrange for the removal of the discharge to mitigate or prevent the substantial threat of the discharge; the OSC may remove and, if necessary, destroy a vessel that is discharging or threatening to discharge, without regard for any other provision of law governing contracting procedures or employment of personnel by the Federal Government (40 CFR 300.322).
Under Subpart C of the NCP, an OSC is responsible for directing the AC to develop an ACP that provides for a well-coordinated response that is integrated and compatible, to the greatest extent possible, with all appropriate response plans of state, local, and non-federal entities, and especially with Title III local emergency response plans. In addition to the sections of this RCP/ACP that discuss integration of plans, each subarea contingency plan describes in detail the responsibilities of RPs and of Federal, State, and local agencies in removing a discharge, and in mitigating or preventing a substantial threat of a discharge.
Subpart D of the NCP sets forth the operational response phases for oil removal, which include:
Phase I -- Discovery or notification.
Phase II -- Preliminary assessment and initiation of action.
Phase III -- Containment, countermeasures, cleanup, and disposal.
Phase IV -- Documentation and cost recovery.
Subpart D of the NCP also provides the general pattern of response, as well as wildlife conservation and funding provisions for an OSC to follow.
Consistent with the NCP and this ACP, upon receipt of notification of a discharge or release, the OSC is responsible for conducting a preliminary assessment to determine the following:
- threat to human health and the environment;
- whether the discharge is a WCD;
- whether due to its severity, size, location, actual or potential impact on the public health and welfare or the environment, or the necessary response efforts are so complex that it requires extraordinary coordination to contain or clean up the discharge (i.e., whether it’s a spill of national significance [SON]);
- the party responsible for the spill and its capability to conduct removal that is consistent with the NCP and this ACP; and
- feasibility of removal or the mitigation of impact.
After the preliminary assessment the OSC will:
- Notify and coordinate with the appropriate State and Federal Agencies. OSC notification responsibilities are discussed in further detail in subsection 2.10 of this plan.
- Determine whether proper response actions have been initiated. If the RP for the release or discharge does not act promptly in accordance with the directions of the OSC or does not take actions, consistent with the NCP or ACP or if the party is unknown, the OSC shall respond in accordance with provisions of the NCP and agency guidance, and coordinate activities as outlined in this RCP/ACP.
- Collect information concerning the discharge or release:
- its source and cause;
- potentially responsible parties;
- the nature, amount, location, direction, and time of discharge;
- pathways to human and environmental exposure;
- potential impact on human health, welfare, and safety, and the environment;
- possible impact on natural resources and property;
- priorities for protecting human health and welfare and the environment; and
- estimated cost for the response.
- Certify the financial responsibility of vessel owners and operators.
- Consult with and inform the RRT5 members of reported discharges and releases through Pollution Reports in Message Format (POLREPs).
- Consult with the appropriate Regional or District office regarding situations potentially requiring temporary or permanent relocation.
- In the event of a declared Federal disaster, coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) as appropriate.
- Implement appropriate community relations activities.
- Address worker health and safety issues prior to and during a response operation, and comply with all worker health and safety regulations.
- Coordinate with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), as deemed necessary, regarding possible public health threats.
- Coordinate with the US EPA Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (ORIA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) in emergencies involving radiological hazards.
The NCP also mandates that the OSC be responsible for ensuring that oil and contaminated materials recovered in cleanup operations are disposed of in accordance with the RCP/ACP, and any applicable laws, regulations, or requirements.
As requested by the NRT or RRT5, the OSC shall submit to the RRT5 a complete report on the removal operation and the actions taken.
The report shall record:
- the situation as it develops,
- the actions taken,
- the resources committed, and
- the problems encountered.