The National Academies

HMCRP HM-03 [Final]

A Guide for Assessing Emergency Response Needs and Capabilities for Hazardous Materials Releases

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Research Agency: Battelle
Principal Investigator: Art Greenberg
Effective Date: 11/14/2007
Completion Date: 11/30/2010
Comments: Published as HMCRP Report 5.

Federal health, safety, and environmental regulations address emergency response planning and preparations in the event of a hazardous materials release. The Emergency Preparedness and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA, enacted as Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA)) calls for State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) and their designated Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) to plan and prepare for such incidents; however, few efforts have been made at the national, state, or regional levels to identify capable response teams, match their capabilities with potential emergencies involving different types of hazardous materials, and assess how quickly resources can be brought to bear in an emergency. Likewise, comprehensive guidance on assessing state, regional, or local hazardous materials emergency response needs, in order to achieve the appropriate level of coverage at the regional or local level, has not been provided. 
Developing and maintaining hazardous materials response capabilities assessments that are current, secure, and useful is important to system safety and security. Guidance is needed for developing comprehensive assessments of emergency response capabilities (public and private) within and across geographic areas. 
The objective of this project is to develop a guide for conducting assessments of emergency response needs and capabilities for hazardous materials releases. The guide shall address four elements: (a) conducting state, regional, and local hazardous material emergency response needs assessments; (b) developing, maintaining, and sharing capability assessments; (c) aligning assessed needs with various levels of capability; and (d) identifying shortfalls where additional/different capabilities are warranted. The guide will include recommended methods for monitoring and recording changes in response capability over time, in order to avoid a static snapshot. In cases where there are gaps in existing techniques or necessary data for the needs or capability assessments, this research will identify research needs to address them.
Status: The final report has been published as HMCRP Report 5, A Guide for Assessing Community Emergency Response Needs and Capabilities for Hazardous Materials Releases.  The Guide is also available electronically at


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