Mitigation and cleanup of spills requires knowledge of resources at risk. Because many source locations and pollution paths are possible, strict prioritization of protection strategies is difficult. However, identification of resources potentially at risk before an incident and discussion of their relative importance by the appropriate trustees are useful processes, both technically and from communications and human standpoints.


Environmentally and Economically Sensitive Areas are identified in the Inland Sensitivity Atlas series, a set of Geographic Information System (GIS) products intended to provide contingency planners and spill responders in Region 5 with the most accurate and relevant information possible for spill preparedness and response. The atlas series includes data about sensitive environmental, economic, and cultural resources; potential spill sources; and response resources within EPA Region 5, including portions of the basins of the Upper Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Great Lakes. GIS products from this joint effort are made available as paper atlases and in digital format, including an online Inland Sensitivity Atlas viewer.

Information mapped includes:

  • species data including Federal and State threatened and endangered species
  • Federal, State, Regional, and privately-owned and managed natural resource areas
  • Tribal Lands
  • Federal, State, Regional, and private designations of natural resource areas (no ownership)
  • drinking water intakes
  • industrial water intakes
  • locks and dams
  • marinas and boat accesses
  • oil storage above 42,000 gallons and oil pipelines
  • Federal, State and Tribal Trustees

Types of environmentally and economically sensitive areas are detailed below, including agencies and programs that can be contacted for further information. Owners/operators should also incorporate information on locally managed environmentally and economically sensitive areas into their FRPs.


Identification of culturally sensitive sites in the vicinity of a spill can be accomplished by contacting the appropriate State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). This individual is generally associated with the State Historical Preservation Office or Society, which may or may not be within a department of State government. Contacts for individual States are provided in the table below.

State SHPO Contact SHPO Website
 Illinois Amy Martin
(217) 785-7930
Indiana Cameron F. Clark
(317) 232-1646
Michigan Brian D. Conway
(517) 373-1630
Minnesota Barbara Mitchell Howard
(651) 259-3466
State Historic Preservation Office
Phone: (651) 259-3450
Ohio Burt Logan
(614) 298-2000
Wisconsin Chip Brown
(608) 264-6508

The National Parks Service (NPS) has responsibility for sites located on Federal lands within the Region. NPS maintains a registry of historically and culturally significant resources, the National Register of Historic Places, which can be accessed via the National Register Information System at www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/database-research.htm.

Specific procedures and Federal OSC responsibilities regarding these sites are set forth in the Programmatic Agreement on Protection of Historic Properties During Emergency Response. Further information about the NPS History and Culture program can be found at www.nps.gov/history/


USFWS Field Response Coordinators are the primary Federal contact for information about migratory birds, endangered and threatened species, and fish and wildlife at risk as a result of spills in the inland and coastal zones. See Appendix VII, Fish and Wildlife Annex for further information.

Each State has fisheries and wildlife biologists, who may be assigned to a Department of Natural Resources or other State agency. These personnel are assigned to geographic areas within a State (district or region) and are listed in Appendix VII. They can also be identified through State emergency response agencies or USFWS Pollution Response Coordinators.

The Inland Sensitivity Atlas includes inventories developed by each State’s Natural Heritage or Natural Features Inventory.

The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) can be a source of technical assistance in understanding Native American fish and wildlife management and cultural values. Another source of valuable information is the National Animal Poison Control Center.

Sea Grant Universities and Extension Agents may be a source of local knowledge outside the public sector. These agents have contact with local scientists, fishermen, environmental groups, and other sources that may supplement information provided by regulatory agencies. They can be contacted through the NOAA SSC.


Updated information on protected habitat and economically and environmentally sensitive environments is provided in this plan in three separate indices, one for each of the three drainage basins in Region 5: the Great Lakes basin, the Mississippi River basin, and the Ohio River basin. Each index contains detailed information, in digital format, regarding the environmentally and economically sensitive areas, and Tribal interests.

Descriptive information, maps, and emergency contact lists are also included. The text in the indices provides further instructions on accessing the data available on the disks.

A variety of protected areas such as forests, parks, preserves, reserves, and management areas are managed by public or private organizations such as The Nature Conservancy/Heritage Foundation. Additional sources of this information include Federal or State land management agencies, which include the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce at the Federal level and their counterparts at the State and local levels.


Oil spill response activities qualify as an emergency action under the Endangered Species Act. The emergency continues to exist until the removal operations are completed and the case is closed in accordance with 40 C.F.R. 300.320(b). The OSC will continue to conduct emergency consultations, if needed, until the emergency is over, and the case is closed. Formal, or informal, consultation is initiated after the emergency is over, at which time the USFWS and/or NMFS evaluates the nature of the emergency actions, the justification for the expedited consultation, and any impacts to listed species and their habitats.

RRT5 has engaged USFWS and NMFS during the ACP planning process and response strategies. This informal consultation determines the presence of listed species or critical habitat, and the effects of countermeasures, and ensures that measures to reduce or avoid impacts to listed species and critical habitats during oil spill response activities are developed. Response strategies set forth in the SACPs are specifically designed to protect listed species and critical habitat should be implemented as soon as possible and to the extent practicable when responding to any discharge of oil or release of hazardous substances.


CERCLA, CWA and OPA require the designation of certain Federal, State, and Native American Tribal officials to act on behalf of the public as trustees for natural resources that they manage or protect. Natural resources, as defined in CERCLA and OPA, means land, fish, wildlife, biota, air, water, groundwater, drinking water supplies, and other such resources belonging to, managed by, held in trust by, appertaining to, or otherwise controlled by the United States, any state or local government, or Indian Tribe.

Roles & Responsibilities

Natural resource(s) trustees are responsible for assessing damages to resources under their jurisdictions resulting from oil spills or release of hazardous substances. Also, agencies are responsible for seeking recovery for losses from responsible parties and for devising and carrying out rehabilitation, restoration, and replacement of injured natural resources. Where more than one natural resource(s) trustee has jurisdiction over a resource, agencies will coordinate and cooperate in carrying out the activities described above (reference NCP 300.600). Damage assessment is controlled by the designated natural resource(s) trustees and not response; however, it is important for natural resource(s) trustees to work with the OSC/RPM to coordinate activities as necessary.

To minimize impacts to natural resources and assist trustees in carrying out their responsibilities, the OSC is required to

  1. Promptly report actual or potential discharges or releases to those federal, state and tribal agencies designated as trustees for natural resources;
  2. Consult with trustees and other natural resource managers in determining such impacts and appropriate protective actions;
  3. Coordinate all response activities with trustees and other natural resource managers;
  4. Make available to trustees documentation and information that can assist the trustees in determining actual or potential natural resource injuries; and
  5. Consult with USFWS on all incidents and response activities that may affect federally-listed threatened or endangered species or their habitats.

The trustees and other natural resource managers, consistent with procedures specified in the Fish and Wildlife Annex (Appendix VII), may provide timely advice on recommended actions concerning resources that are potentially affected by a discharge of oil or release of hazardous substances. This could include providing assistance to the OSC/RPM in identifying and recommending pre-approved response techniques and in predesignating shoreline types and areas.

See Appendix VII for a detailed discussion of trustee responsibilities.

The trustees are authorized to assess monetary damages for resources injured, lost, or destroyed as a result of discharge of oil or releases of hazardous substances. In addition, the trustees are authorized to seek damages from the responsible person(s), and to devise and carry out restoration, rehabilitation and replacement of natural resources. Where more than one trustee has jurisdiction over a resource, these agencies should coordinate and cooperate in carrying out their activities. RRT representatives from trustee agencies serve as contact points.

Points of Contact

The Region 5 contact for the DOI Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance is located in Philadelphia, PA, at (215) 597-5378.

NOAA acts on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce as a trustee for natural resources. NOAA contacts include member/trustee Representative Lt Rachel Pryor phone: (216) 522-7760 and alternate member Adam Davis phone: (251) 554-5012; 24/7 Emergency Contact for both: (206) 526-4911.


CERCLA requires the President to designate in the National Contingency Plan (NCP) Federal officials who are to act on behalf of the public as Trustees for natural resources under Federal trusteeship. Section 300.600 of the NCP designates the Secretaries of the following Cabinet Departments to act as Trustees for the natural resources, subject to their respective management or control:

Specific information about each of the Secretary’s responsibilities can be found in the NCP at 40 CFR §300.600 or in the links supplied for each Cabinet Department above.


The governor of each state has designated state officials to act on behalf of the public as trustees for natural resources. Natural resources under state jurisdiction include all fish, wildlife and biota, including a shared trusteeship with the federal government for certain plants and animals, air, surface water, groundwater and land.


The tribal chairman or head of the tribal governing body, or person designated by tribal officials, acts as trustee of natural resources under Native American tribal trusteeship including lands and other natural resources belonging to, managed by, controlled by, or otherwise appertaining to the tribe; or held in trust for the tribe; or belonging to a member of the tribe if subject to a trust restriction on alienation.


The Field Services Section, Superfund Division, Region 5 has the ability to perform limited field surveys at hazardous waste sites. The Section has staff and equipment to provide the following services using various techniques and field equipment:

  • Surface geophysical surveys: using ground-penetrating radar, electromagnetic surveys, magnetometers, seismic refraction, and resistivity measures.
  • Subsurface geophysical surveys: using seismic tomography, electromagnetic surveys, natural gamma detection, single-point resistivity, spontaneous potential measures, fluid resistivity, and various borehole measures.
  • Soil/Groundwater samples: using a Geoprobe or similar equipment.

The following sections describe underwater response.


The following underwater survey equipment is available to the Region through the EPA Emergency Response Team (ERT):

  • Remote-Operated Vehicle (ROV): For use in observing underwater objects from shore or boat (1,000-foot depth limit).
  • Mesotech Sonar: Mounted on ROV to locate any object above bottom sediments. ROV directed to potential drums by sonar.
  • Proton Magnetometer: Locates metal objects underwater. Towed behind a boat.
  • Sediment and Water Sampling Equipment: Provides ability to sample water and sediments at any depth. Analyses performed at ERT’s laboratory facilities, Edison, NJ.
  • 20-foot Boston Whaler: Trailable boat specially designed for underwater electronic surveys and diving operations.
  • Side-Scan Sonar Survey Equipment: Accurately maps bottom.

The following diving and diving support resources are available to the Region through the EPA Emergency Response Team (ERT):

  • ERT Diving Team: Three US EPA-certified divers with Level B-equivalent diving gear.
  • Commercial (Contract) Divers: For long-term underwater removals, Region 5 uses private diving firms that comply with EPA’s Chapter 10 Diving Safety Regulations.

Various Diving Equipment: Available from any of EPA’s five diving units.


The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Surface Warfare Program directs the U.S. Navy's Salvage Program which stems from 10 U.S.C.§7361-7364 (Salvage Facilities Act) authorizing the Secretary of the Navy to provide necessary salvage facilities for public and private vessels and settle claims for salvage services rendered by the Navy. This authority allows for the maintenance of a national salvage and oil spill response capability for use in peacetime, war, or national emergency, many of the primary responsibilities of which are assigned directly to SUPSALV. The NAVSEA 24-hour duty number is (202) 781-3889.

Information about SUPSALV is available online at https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/SUPSALV/.


A variety of land-based remote sensing methods exist which have been successfully used and are commercially available through contractors. Contact EPA for details and to access its contracted resources.

Aerial remote sensing, primarily used for locating pollutants in water, is in its early stages of development. Technologies are similar to land-based systems; however, data acquisition and interpretation are costly and of limited value. The agencies listed below have capabilities and experts that can be consulted regarding the use of these techniques.

  • EPA Environmental Photographic Interpretation Center (EPIC) Reston, Virginia (703) 648-4284; fax: (708) 648-4290
  • NOAA Satellite Services Division (301) 763-8051 (business hours); (301) 763-8142, x 124

Environment Canada (Emergency Science Division) (613) 998-9622



CAMEO is a suite of software tools developed by EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to assist front-line chemical emergency planners and responders. They can use CAMEO to access, store, and evaluate information critical for developing emergency plans. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/cameo/what-cameo-software-suite.


ALOHA is the hazard modeling program for the CAMEO software suite. It allows users to enter details about a real or potential chemical release, and then it will generate threat zone estimates for various types of hazards. ALOHA can model toxic gas clouds, flammable gas clouds, BLEVEs (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosions), jet fires, pool fires, and vapor cloud explosions. For more information about ALOHA, visit www.epa.gov/cameo/aloha-software.


The most current weather information can be found on the National Weather Service website at


StreamStats provides access to spatial analytical tools that are useful for water-resources planning and management, and for engineering and design purposes. The map-based user interface can be used to delineate drainage areas, get basin characteristics and estimates of flow statistics, and more. Available information varies from state to state. To view and use the application, visit https://streamstats.usgs.gov/ss/.

WaterWatch (http://waterwatch.usgs.gov) is a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) World Wide Web site that displays maps, graphs, and tables describing real-time, recent, and past streamflow conditions for the United States. The real-time information generally is updated on an hourly basis.


Data Portal: The GLOS Data Portal provides access to near-real-time and archived observations and to model forecasts for the Great Lakes. For more information, visit GLOS.org.


Standalone planning tools and information resources. Clicking on a section title will open the selected tool.


Air Monitoring Guidance Tool

This tool is designed to help the responder identify appropriate actions for possible hazardous chemicals and radiation. Where the response type or any target chemicals are known, the user can view chemical characteristics, monitoring equipment and guidance, and appropriate measures based on levels present. Where environmental conditions are unknown, decision steps are laid out to help determine next courses of action.


Inland Response Tactics Manual

General information about tactics for use during initial response to spills to fresh water. Includes a description of the tactic, deployment considerations and limitations, equipment and personnel needed, support requirements and other reference information. Developed by Alaska Clean Seas and adapted for use in other regions.


Habitat Factsheets

Overviews of response considerations for habitats likely to be found in and around nearshore and inland waterways. Each factsheet includes a general description of the habitat, information about the habitat's sensitivity to oil spills and to response methods, a list of response methods sorted by level of impact, and sources of additional information.


Incident Command System Forms

An index of links to standard ICS forms, provided as fillable forms in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format.