New York, NY - April 10, 2014 - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) have committed to enhance emergency preparedness and response capabilities for potential crude oil incidents in New York, the agencies announced today.
"The important job of protecting public health and the environment does not fall on just one agency but rests with multiple federal, state and local agencies," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "Recognizing this, Governor Cuomo called upon DEC and its sister state agencies to identify ways to improve emergency response and preparedness through better coordination at all levels of government in the face of increased shipments of crude oil across the country. Today DEC has further committed to working with our federal, state and local partners to ensure that all is being done to prevent and prepare for spills that could affect New Yorkers and the state's lands and waters. DEC is grateful that our federal partners have agreed to work diligently and swiftly to ensure New Yorkers' safety."
"There has been a substantial increase in the transport of crude oil across the State of New York, including along the Hudson River. This requires all hands on deck, as every level of government must work together to prevent accidents and prevent oil spills," said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. "The EPA is committed to protecting the health of every New Yorker, especially first responders. EPA welcomes the opportunity to work more closely with federal, state and local agencies, the public, the oil industry and the rail and barge companies."
DEC, EPA and USCG have started to:
- Review and update in 2014 the NY/NJ Area Contingency Plan, which is a plan developed by the Coast Guard, EPA and state governments to outline how they will respond to man-made or weather-related incidents that may impact human health or the environment of a geographic area. The goal is to have this update completed by the end of December 2014.
- Update in 2014 the NY Inland Area Contingency Plan, which is similar to the NY/NJ Area Contingency Plan, for areas not covered by a coastal plan. The plans are compiled by EPA and DEC.
- Work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to update the New York-Hudson River Area Environmental Sensitivity Index as expeditiously as possible. This index includes NOAA-maintained maps of sensitive environmental areas such as wetlands or endangered species in a specific area such as the Hudson River.
- Prioritize and develop Geographic Response Plans (GRPs) across NYS working with all applicable agencies, including local agencies. These action plans are developed to protect a specific environmental resource or potential human exposure, such as a booming plan to protect a water supply from an oil spill. A GRP is both a planning document and a spill response tool that can be used to guide initial efforts in response to a major oil spill.
- Increase the coordination between the EPA and DEC regarding spill prevention and storage facility inspections.
- Complete unannounced preparedness exercises by EPA with DEC in high priority areas.
DEC, EPA and USCG joined their partner federal and state agencies today and yesterday in Albany for a routine Regional Response Team Region II meeting to coordinate emergency preparedness and response efforts.