Multi-agency HAZMAT release, oil spill response preparedness meeting held in Myrtle Beach

Southeastern Coast Guard News
Myrtle Beach, S.C. — Representatives from county emergency management agencies, oil spill response organizations, state on-scene coordinators, universities and multiple federal agencies came together in Myrtle Beach for a semi-annual Regional Response Team meeting for FEMA Region IV Tuesday through Thursday.

The meeting, mandated under the National Contingency Plan, is intended to strengthen the lines of communication throughout an eight-state region composed of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

Focused on establishing and updating planning and preparedness in response to the threat of hazardous material releases and oil spills, the Regional Response Team provides regional oversight for local area committees and their respective area contingency plans and falls under the National Response Team. Each regional team is co-chaired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard.

During the meeting, the team completed a robust agenda providing oil and HAZMAT case review, addressing best practices and lessons learned from federal trustees and response agencies. Highlights over the three days included Boyd Holt, head of the Horry County, S.C., Local Emergency Planning Committee, detailing the concerns and potential issues for first responders throughout the county and Dr. Jyotika Virmani, from the Florida Institute of Oceanography, discussing opportunities for increased interaction and support from educational institutions throughout Florida.

“Meeting at the regional level on a consistent basis provides inestimable value in the beginning stages of any response,” said Forest Willis, the Coast Guard co-chair for Regional Response Team IV. “It allows all of the trustees, states, contractors and response agencies to develop the relationships and establish those lines of communication that mean all of the difference in the initial mitigation of any incident.”

The meeting occurs every February and August, alternating locations between states for each meeting to create opportunity for equal representation from all eight states. The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 27-29, 2013 in Raleigh, N.C.

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