Preparing for an Oil Spill

MassDEP trains with local communities so that we are ready to quickly clean up an oil spill.

First Responder Training

MassDEP sponsors "hands on" oil spill training for first responders from coastal communities in order to develop and maintain the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively and safely respond to an oil spill.

In addition to the MassDEP-sponsored training, there are numerous workshops and online training tool available, such as those provided by the National Institute of Environmental Science (NIEHS). The NIEHS Training Tool is an awareness-level health and safety resource for "skilled support personnel" (SSP) who participate in an oil spill response and cleanup. This tool helps workers understand: what an oil spill is, the characteristics of an oil spill response, and how to identify and control hazards pertaining to the response and cleanup activities associated with an oil spill.

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Identifying Sensitive Areas for Protection

A Geographic Response Plan (GRP) is a planning document and response tool that is intended to guide local responders in the first 24-48 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 responder to develop a more effective and coordinated initial response. A Geographic Response Plan (GRP) 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.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has contracted with Nuka Research and Planning Group to prepare GRP's for all coastal areas. Preparation and funding of these response plans is a major focus of MassDEP's efforts in meeting the oil spill response and preparedness mandates of the Mass. Oil Spill Act.

Geographic Response Plans for Massachusetts coastal areas can be found at

Geographic Response Plans

If you have questions about GRP development in Massachusetts or would like to participate in the process, please contact Julie Hutcheson,

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