US government releases emergency response plan

A national plan for responding to natural disaster or terrorist attacks in the US has been released by this week.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and a broad coalition of experts from federal, state, local and tribal governments, as well as representatives from the private sector, contributed to the development of this landmark document.

By incorporating a comprehensive all-hazards approach, the National Response Plan (NRP) represents a significant milestone in the nation's ability to prepare for and respond to extreme weather occurrences or attacks by terrorists in the future.

The NRP unifies and reconciles several previous existing national response plans and systems, and provides response assistance for national emergencies involving releases of hazardous materials, including chemical, biological and radiological substances.

Having previously managed emergency responses involving oil and hazardous substances, the EPA took a lead role in forging the NRP. Historically, the agency has played a unique role in containing and removing hazardous contaminants from land and water, as well as ensuring protection of human health and the environment.

During 2005, the EPA will join the DHS and other federal, state, and local agencies in exercises designed to provide emergency planning and response officials with the opportunity to use the new plan under various emergency scenarios.

The unified and comprehensive framework provided by the NRP will be an essential part of these exercises and the overall effort to continuously improve the Nation's emergency preparedness and response capabilities.



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