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Oil Spill Response

As Louisiana’s lead office for oil spill response, the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office (LOSCO) coordinates the state agencies that are involved in response and cleanup. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), 33 USC 2701 et seq. and the Louisiana Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1991 (OSPRA), La. Rev. Stat. 30:2451 et seq. are the principal federal and state statues, respectively, which authorize federal and state agencies to provide for a coordinated response effort in the event of an unauthorized or threatened discharge of oil.  A LOSCO staff member is on call 24-hours a day, ready to respond as the State On-Scene Coordinator (SOSC), should the need arise.  In addition to a quick response during spills, LOSCO has made advance preparation a priority.

One goal of the Response Program is to ensure that the state is ready to respond quickly and efficiently to any oil spill emergency.

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For information on spills notifications in Louisiana reported to the National Response Center (NRC) you can search the NRC database.

National response system

The National Response System (NRS) is the government's mechanism for emergency response to discharges of oil and hazardous substances into navigable waters or environments of the United States and its territories.  The NRS functions through a network of interagency and inter-government relationships which were formally established and are described in the Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP).

For more information on the NRS, click here



Regional Response Teams (RRT) are a part of the National Response System.  The RRT provides the mechanism for regional development and coordination of preparedness activities before a response action is taken, and for coordination of assistance and advice to the On-Scene Coordinators during such response actions.  The RRT provides guidance to Area Committees, as appropriate, to ensure inter-area consistency and consistency of individual Area Contingency Plans (ACP).  Every region in the United States has its own RRT charged with planning for and responding to emergency situations.

Louisiana is a member of the Region 6 RRT.  Region 6 RRT membership consists of 15 federal agencies and five states with responsibilities, interests, and expertise in various aspects of emergency response to pollution incidents.

As a member of the Region 6 RRT, LOSCO plays a major role in shaping oil spill response policy.  For example, LOSCO is working with RRT members to make a full range of alternative response technologies more easily available for field operations.

The following are Pre-Approval, Expedited-Approval, and Guidance Documents for RRT Region 6:

in-situ burns


surface washing agents

bioremediation applications

Special Monitoring of Applied Response Technologies (SMART) is the cooperatively designed monitoring protocol for use during in-situ burn and dispersant applications.

The State of Louisiana also has additional guidelines that outline the monitoring requirements for in situ burns of on-shore oil spills.

For more information on RRT, click here.

For more information on the Region 6 RRT, click here.

Government Oil Spill Contingency Plans

To ensure a quick and efficient response to an oil spill, responders must know what steps to take in the event of an emergency.  Contingency plans describe information and processes for containing and cleaning up an oil spill that occurs in a defined geographic area.  The following is a description of national, area, and state contingency plans, as they pertain to Louisiana, and as mandated by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) and the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1991 (OSPRA).

National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan

The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) is the government’s blueprint for responding to oil or hazardous substance releases that are beyond the capabilities of local and state responders.  The NCP was developed to provide for national response capabilities and to promote overall coordination among the hierarchy of responders and contingency planners.  The NCP provides the framework for the National Response System and establishes how it works.

For more information on the NCP, click here.

Area Contingency Plans - One Gulf Plan

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 mandated the creation of Area Contingency Plans (ACP).  Louisiana and the other Gulf of Mexico states (Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida), operate under the One Gulf Plan.  There are three Geographic Response Plans in Louisiana’s coastal zone:

Click here to view all U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) ACPs

The plans describe response strategies for targeted areas, thereby providing an essential layer of preparation for oil spills.  A committee guides each plan’s development and revisions.  The committees are composed of representatives from industry, environmental groups, and planners from federal, state, and local government.  The committees meet regularly to update oil spill response plans, identify sensitive resources, and develop site-specific response strategies.  In Louisiana, the committees are co-chaired by LOSCO and the USCG.

Inland areas are also at risk from oil spills. The planning needs of these areas are covered by the Region 6 Regional Integrated Contingency Plan.

For more information on the USCG, Sector New Orleans, click here.

For more information on the USCG, MSU Morgan City, click here.

For more information on the USCG, MSU Port Arthur, click here.

For more information on the Region 6 Regional Integrated Contingency Plan, click here.

The State Contingency Plan

Federal, state, and local agencies all play a role in oil spill response – a situation that demands clear lines of communication and command.  In 1995, LOSCO and its partners in state government created a plan that describes how Louisiana agencies will respond during oil spills.  Called the State Contingency Plan, this document helps clarify and streamline response procedures.  State agencies involved in the plan include:

Response Plans for Acts of Terrorism and Natural Disasters

Acts of terrorism and natural disasters can result in large oil spills that are emergencies requiring quick and effective action.  During such events, federal and state agencies operate using the National Response Plan (NRP), in accordance with the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (PL 100-707); and in Louisiana, the Louisiana Emergency Operations Plan, in accordance with the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act 1993, La. Rev. Stat. 29:721 et seq.

National Response Plan

The National Response Plan (NRP) establishes a comprehensive all-hazards plan for responding to Incidents of National Significance.  The NRP is the core plan for managing domestic incidents and details how the federal government coordinates with state, local, tribal government, and the private sector, during such incidents.  The National Contingency Plan is linked to the NRP, but remains as a subordinate stand alone plan for responding to spills that do no require Department of Homeland Security coordination.

For more information on the NRP, click here.

Louisiana Emergency Operations Plan

Like the National Response Plan, The Louisiana Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) establishes the policies and structure for State government management of emergencies and disasters.  The EOP prescribes the phases of emergencies and disasters; prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.  The EOP is an all-hazard plan.  It assigns responsibilities for actions and tasks that the State will take to provide for the safety and welfare of its citizens against the threat of natural, technological, and national security emergencies and disasters.  The EOP is designed to coordinate closely with the NRP and with Parish Emergency Operations Plans.  It establishes a base on which further plans, procedures, guidelines, arrangements, and agreements can be elaborated.
The Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator is responsible for the conduct of response and recovery to oil spills under emergency function ESF10 of the EOP.

For more information on the Louisiana EOP, click here.

EOP 2007 update

EOP Supplement 6

Vessel and Facility Response Plans

State and federal agencies are not the only entities that develop oil spill contingency plans.  Oil companies are required to create and update Vessel Response Plans (VRPs) for tank vessels and certain non-tank vessels; as well as Facility Response Plans (FRPs) for offshore facilities, onshore facilities, and pipelines.  All VRPs and FRPs must be consistent with the National Contingency Plan and applicable Area Contingency Plans ; and FRPs should be coordinated with local emergency response plans.  VRPs and FRPs identify the response organization, emergency response procedures, and strategies for responding to a discharge up to a worst case discharge.  For VRPs, salvage, lightering, and shipboard firefighting resources must also be identified.

Oil Spill Response Drills

The drills encompass the entire response process, from spill notification to deployment of equipment and personnel. LOSCO regularly participates in drills, some of which are conducted as table top exercises, and some of which require companies to send employees and equipment into the field. The drills give all parties involved the opportunity to fine tune procedures, test response times, and forge good working relationships with partners who can assist them if a spill occurs.

Depending on the location of the spill, LOSCO, as the SOSC, will work with the Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) to monitor or direct responses to oil spills reported to the federal government.  
In the coastal area, the FOSC is either the:

·        USCG/MSO New Orleans
·        USCG/MSO Morgan City
·        USCG/MSO Port Arthur

The US EPA is the FOSC in the inland zone.


LOSCO works closely with federal agencies during oil spill events. LOSCO, as the SOSC, coordinates with the Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) to monitor or direct responses to oil spills reported to the federal government.

In the coastal zone, the FOSC is one of the following, depending on the location of the spill:

·        USCG/MSO New Orleans
·        USCG/MSO Morgan City
·        USCG/MSO Port Arthur

The US EPA is the FOSC for the inland zone of Louisiana.

Response Tools

A number of useful tools are available to assist contingency planners and oil spill responders.

Information on the Incident Command System (ICS) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS) is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Louisiana-specific GIS data is available from atlas.lsu.edu.

For information on specific wells, oil fields, operators, production reports, and more, please visit the Louisiana Department of Natural Resource (LDNR) Strategic Online Natural Resources Information System (SONRIS) web site.

  For Information on threatened and endangered species, please visit the following:

Historical and near real time meta ocean data including, wave height, period, direction of propagation, water level, surge, near surface current speed and direction, and meteorological conditions along the Louisiana coast, are available at:

For other oceanic and climatological data, please visit the following:

Related Links

NOAA Office of Response and Restoration
USCG Eighth District
USCG National Pollution Funds Center
USCG National Strike Force
USEPA Solid Waste and Emergency Response
USFWS Division of Environmental Quality Oil Spill Preparation and Response
US National Response Team
USEPA Region 6/ USCG District 8 Geographical Boundaries for Response
USEPA NCP Product Schedule and Notebook