The US EPA Environmental Response Team (ERT) is a specialized group of scientists and engineers whose mission is to:
- Support the nation's response, cleanup and renewal of its contaminated land, water and air
- Provide high quality service and consultation to those requiring assistance around the world
- Promote the development of technology and procedures in relevant science and engineering areas
- Support the programs within the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
- Disseminate relevant environmental information
The ERT is recognized as a vital link in the US EPA's battle to remediate and limit environmental damage to air, land, and water, and evaluate threats to human health.
Established in 1978 under the Clean Water Act and mandated as one of the Special Forces under the National Contingency Plan (NCP), the ERT, a branch within the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER), is comprised of a group of EPA technical professionals, who provide the EPA Regional and Headquarters Offices, US Coast Guard, District Offices, Federal, State, local Agencies, and foreign governments, experienced technical and logistical assistance in responding to environmental emergencies such as oil or hazardous materials spills, and the characterization and cleanup of hazardous waste sites.
Their offices in Edison, NJ; Cincinnati, OH; Washington, D.C.; and Las Vegas, NV, maintain around-the-clock readiness to provide expertise at the scene of a terrorist attack or hazardous substance releases in such areas including, but not limited to: rapid assessment techniques (stationary and mobile), clean-up and treatment technologies, field analytics and method development, eco-toxicology, health and safety protocols, radiation health physics, ecological risk and veterinary science.
The ERT can provide support to the full range of emergency response actions including unusual or complex emergency incidents such as when an underwater release challenges the EPA. In such cases, the team can bring in special equipment with technically adept responders providing the On-scene-coordinator or lead responder with experience and advice.
The ERT is also recognized as a vehicle for the rapid generation of topic specific standard operating procedures (SOPs), technical bulletins, fact sheets; and analytical method development and evaluation, which are maintained by and available from the team's Environmental Response Center (ERC). The same can be said for the Environmental Response Training Program (ERTP) which offers over 20 regular courses and has the capacity to swiftly compile technically focused, topic specific courses.
Today, the ERT is the vanguard in design, development and support of software for the collection and management of environmental information. Expanding upon its initial charge and keeping pace with program regulations and administrative priorities, in concert with extensive characterization and monitoring capabilities, the ERT also provides remedy recommendations/implementation, technology efficacy/cost effectiveness and emerging technology evaluation through bench, pilot, and full-scale studies promoting the One Cleanup Program.
Members are involved in agency and office priorities for Land Revitalization efforts in ecological restoration and revitalization as well as revegetation of sites fostering the implementation of "a better way."
The ERT is active in policy development, evaluation, and implementation in areas such as Soil and Groundwater Indoor Air Vapor Intrusion, Ecological Risk Assessment, Contaminated Sediment Remediation, as well as Counterterrorism and Homeland Security.