The federal agency providing OSC might differ depending on the incident.
During an oil or hazmat incident, EPA will usually provide OSCs in the inland zone, and the USCG will generally provide OSCs in the coastal zone. The OSC coordinates all federal containment, removal, and disposal efforts and resources during an incident under the NCP or the Federal Response Plan (FRP). The OSC is the point of contact for the coordination of federal efforts with those of the local response community. EPA has approximately 200 OSCs at 17 locations nation-wide; USCG has 46 Marine Safety Offices (MSOs), spread among the nine USCG Districts, each of which is headed by a Captain of the Port (COTP), who acts as an OSC.
Agencies other than EPA or USCG might provide the OSC depending on the incident. While EPA and USCG have primary responsibility under federal laws and regulations, under CERCLA, DOD, DOE, and other federal agencies provide OSCs for incidents for which they have responsibility for releases of hazardous substances. If a federal agency other than EPA, USCG, DOD, or DOE – has responsibility for an incident, they only provide the OSC if the incident involves non-emergency removal actions. Each of the agencies in the NRS provides resources and technical expertise and has access to a wide range of federal assets, such as equipment and special expertise, through the RRT.
In developing the ACP, the OSC must coordinate with state and local response organizations, including those represented on the State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) and Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs). It is the OSC’s and Area Committee’s responsibility to ensure that the ACP provides for a well coordinated response that is integrated and compatible, to the greatest extent possible, with all appropriate response plans of local, state, and non-federal entities, and especially with SARA Title III local emergency response plans. The OSC should also include, to the extent possible, a discussion of relationships with potential RPs. In addition, the OSC must periodically conduct drills of spill removal capability, including fish and wildlife response capability, without prior notice, in areas for which ACPs are required and under relevant tank vessel and facility response plans. In the event of a significant discharge, OSCs should implement the ICS specified in the ACP.
The OSC should either implement an ICS at the beginning of a response, or be prepared to integrate into an existing, properly functioning, ICS during a response. It is important to recognize that local and/or state responders may already have established an ICS when the OSC arrives on-scene. In many cases, the OSC will fill multiple positions within the ICS organization. An OSC also may elect to establish any of the functions of an ICS by assigning responsibility to another individual.