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MassGIS Data: Massachusetts Geographic Response Plan

December 2017

A Geographic Response Plan (GRP) is a planning document and response tool that is intended to guide local responders during the first 24 to 48 hours of a major coastal oil spill until additional resources supplied by Unified Command can arrive.

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A Geographic Response Plan (GRP) is a planning document and response tool that is intended to guide local responders during the first 24 to 48 hours of a major coastal oil spill until additional resources supplied by Unified Command can arrive. As a response tool the GRP allows quick decisions to be made by providing detailed geographic information on shoreline types, sensitive natural and cultural resources.

This information, together with estimates of response equipment requirements, staging locations and pre-identified deployment strategies for protecting sensitive environmental areas, provides a basis for local responders to develop a more effective and coordinated initial response. Geographic Response Plans also provide important information to the oil spill incident management team in planning and implementing the environmental response to an oil spill. A Geographic Response Plan is usually part of the Area Contingency Plan (ACP) that each USCG Sector is required to maintain to enhance preparedness and prevention activities for all coastal areas of the United States.

In support of the Massachusetts Geographic Response Plans, MassDEP has provided oil spill response equipment and trailers to 68 coastal municipalities and two MassDEP regional offices. The equipment to be used by local spill responders will provide the rapid response capability necessary to contain a spill at its source and to protect or prevent oiling of sensitive habitats and important resources. The equipment serves as an important response asset in the event of a localized spill as well as for a spill of regional scope.

Each coastal municipality in possession of a MassDEP oil spill response trailer has signed the Commonwealth Standard Contract forms that establish terms and conditions regarding the custody and use of the oil spill response equipment. These agreements allow municipalities to use the equipment for certain defined purposes while the Commonwealth of Massachusetts retains ownership of the equipment as well as the responsibility to maintain and restock the trailer and equipment and may relocate oil spill trailers from one community to another as needed to address the resource management needs of an oil spill event.

MassDEP maintains a web site to provide training and inventory information pertaining to this oil spill equipment including locations and local points of contact at https://www.mass.gov/how-to/find-oil-spill-trailer-locations.


The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) contracted with Nuka Research and Planning Group to prepare GRP's for all coastal areas. Preparation and funding of these response plans has been a major focus of MassDEP's efforts to enhance coastal oil spill response and preparedness in Massachusetts. Geographic Response Plans for Massachusetts coastal areas can be found at http://grp.nukaresearch.com/. One of the deliverables was GIS data representing where booms should be employed, what tactics to use where and the locations of other relevant points. GIS data was developed by on screen digitizing with an orthophoto base map. These were delivered as three individual layers.

  1. The GRP_BOOMS_ARC layer contains line features demarking the planned deployment location and type of boom for intercepting and or absorbing oil.
  2. The GRP_TACTICS_PT layer contains point features depicting the tactic for containing or cleaning up oil to be employed at that location.
  3. The GRP_OTHER_PT layer contains points depicting a variety of other relevant features.

An additional point layer of oil spill response trailer locations was generated by MassDEP based on information provided by the MassDEP Oil Spill Prevention and Response Program. The MassDEP Oil Spill Response Trailer layer (DEP_OSR_TRAILER_PT) contains the approximate locations of oil spill response equipment provided by MassDEP to coastal communities in Massachusetts to enhance early response to an oil spill.

Organization of Geographic Response Plans

GRPs are developed for specific sites like the mouth of a river, or a specific inlet. There are 159 sites around Massachusetts with corresponding response plans. These sites are grouped into areas. A Geographic Response Plan will typically contain booms, tactics and probably other points. All three GRP layers share a number of fields regarding the location of the site and references to the GRP of which a feature is a part.

Displaying These Data

The layer files provided by MassDEP and distributed with the data by MassGIS were designed to closely mimic the symbology used in the GRP documents.


Shared Attributes for GRP Layers

The 3 GRP layers contain the following attribute elements:

Field Name Width/Type Description
GRP_AREA_C 4/C A code for the GRP Area of the state
NS  = North Shore
BH =  Boston Harbor
SS =  South Shore
BB =  Buzzards Bay
CI =  Cape & Islands
MHB =  Mount Hope Bay
SITE_NUM 4/C Site number. Site numbers are only unique within a GRP Area, not across the state.
SITE_NAME 50/C The name of the site.
GRP_LINK 120/C The URL for the GRP of which that feature is a part. This field can be used to create a hyperlink to the PDF document.

Layer Specific Attributes for GRP Layers


BOOM_TYPE 8/C The type / purpose of the boom
OWB = Open Water Boom
BB = Beach Berm Material
PWB = Protective Water Boom Flood Tide
PWBE = Protective Water Boom Ebb Tide
PWBc = Protective Water Boom, Strategy developed by others
PWBs = Protective Water Boom Seasonal
LENGTH_FT Short Integer Boom length to the nearest foot


Unique to the tactics layer are the TACTIC_TYP and TACTIC_NUM fields. The tactic number (TACTIC_NUM) is a reference to the explanation of that tactic in the actual GRP for that site. The Tactic Type (TACTIC_TYP) field contains a code for the type of tactic as follows:

TACTIC_TYP 8/C A code for the Tactic type
BB = Beach Berm
CB = Culvert Block
DF = Deflection Booming
DV = Diversion Booming
EX = Exclusion Booming
FO = Free Oil Recovery
PR = Passive Recovery
SR = Shoreside Recovery
TACTIC_NUM 8/C A reference number used in the GRP for that tactic at that location.


P_TYPE 8/C A code for the type of point
POINT_DESC 40/C Description of the point type
AP = Access Point
BR = Boat Ramp
CG = Coast Guard Station
HB = Hurricane Barrier
IB = I-Beam
L = Lock
MD = Mosquito Ditch
PA = Permanent Attachment
PS = Pump Station
RT = Response Trailer
SA = Staging Area
TG = Tidal Gate
WI = Water Intake
WO = Wash Over Point

The fields for DEP_OSR_TRAILERS_PT are as follows:

SITE_NAME 75/C A descriptive name for the trailer site
ADDRESS 75/C Street address of the site where the trailer is physically located
TOWN 21/C Standard (1-351) town name for the town where the trailer is physically located.
LOCALITY 75/C Locality (neighborhood, postal village etc) name where the trailer is physically located
C_NAME 75/C Name of trailer contact
C_TITLE 75/C Title of trailer contact
C_PHONE 25/C Phone number of trailer contact
C_EMAIL 75/C Email of trailer contact



This data is currently maintained by the MassDEP GIS Program in cooperation with the MassDEP Oil Spill Prevention and Response Program. The latest update of the three GRP data layers was published on May 11, 2017. On September 29 the three GRP layers were updated with revised URLs in the GRP_LINK field.