In response to a growing need to efficiently coordinate the state's ability to respond to hazardous conditions and effectively integrate with our federal, state and local partners, the department has consolidated several groups into the emergency management section. The role of the emergency management section is to put into action the department's responsibilities, outlined in the Emergency Operating Plan of the State of New Jersey, and to continue to perform the ongoing duties of each individual unit. Emergency management is the department's link to the state's Emergency Operations & Planning Centers, Regional Response Team and Port Area Committees. The section is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Sections & Functions
Bureau of Communications & Support Services
Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection maintains a state of the art communications center. Calls made to the department's Hot Line (877) WARN DEP are answered here. The center responds to over 49,000 calls every year from the public as well as government and professional agents. Calls to the center are received and evaluated before being forwarded to the appropriate department for action. Given the broad range of the department's responsibilities, a call may be anything from a report of distressed or nuisance wildlife, to a toxic chemical spill, a forest fire, industrial accident or terrorist event.
In addition to managing the department's 24 hour hot line, the communication center also operates and maintains the department's state wide radio network. With radio coverage from High Point to Cape May, the communications center, call sign: Trenton Dispatch, can directly communicate with the department's field personnel anywhere in the state to support their mission.
Another role of the communications center is to support and dispatch the activities of the NJ State Park Police and Conservation officers. The center's operators are the primary contact for these law enforcement officers on patrol throughout the state, and provide motor vehicle lookups, as well as federal, state and local information checks as needed.
The communications center dispatches radio traffic for these field units:
- Air Monitoring
- Coastal Management
- Compliance & Enforcement
- Conservation Officers
- Emergency Response
- Engineering & Construction
- Fish and Wildlife
- Forest Fire Service
- NJ State Park Police
- Parks and Forest
- Site Remediation
- Solid and Hazardous Waste
- Water Quality
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has the responsibility of responding to emergencies involving a wide variety of hazards that threaten the public, environment and infrastructure of the state. Traditionally, these were principally to oil and hazardous materials; to ensure that discharges of these materials do not threaten the health of the public and environment. Today, the department's mandate includes a much broader spectrum of threats including natural disasters, pathogenic outbreaks, and terrorism. In response to this mandate, NJDEP maintains the Bureau of Emergency Response (BER). The bureau, headquartered in Trenton, supports two field offices strategically located for rapid response on a 24-hour basis, 7 days a week.
At the site of an incident, the emergency responder's mission is to assess the probable impact on public health and the environment, and advise local officials on the appropriate course of remediation while ensuring that DEP Technical Requirements for Site Remediation are met. In those cases where the responsible party is unknown, or cannot or will not assume responsibility for the discharge, emergency responders may access the New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund to ensure that corrective actions are not delayed.
The Bureau of Emergency Response is also responsible for acting as the state's on scene coordinator when incidents involve multiple jurisdictions, agencies and disciplines. New Jersey's unique nexus of ecological diversity, population and industry present a unique challenge for the responders of the department's emergency management section. The department's emergency responders work closely with our federal, state, county and local partners through a variety of established interagency programs, organizations and agreements. This cooperation facilitates the department's preparedness to respond to all hazards that present a threat to the state.
The difficult and often dangerous work performed by the emergency responder dictates the need for exceptional individuals. BER's emergency response specialists are highly trained and motivated, they must have a college degree and a minimum of one year in experience responding to hazardous materials incidents, before they can be hired. New responders complete an extensive program of training in a variety of disciplines before they are allowed to direct activities in the field. Training and drilling remain an important part of the responders' regimen throughout their careers, but these are no substitute for experience!
New Jersey Law requires that most discharges of hazardous materials be immediately reported to the NJDEP HOTLINE 1-877-WARNDEP / 1-877-927-6337. Notification of an incident is then made to an emergency response duty officer who investigates and assesses the specifics of the incident to determine the threat potential to the health of the public and environment. Generally, emergency responders are deployed immediately upon a credible report of:
- A significant release, spill or discharge of a Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act [T.C.P.A.) extraordinary hazardous substance.
- An incident resulting in fatalities or multiple hospitalizations directly due to a discharge of hazardous material.
- An incident resulting in significant residential evacuation and/or in a significant facility evacuation.
- An incident having interstate impact.
- Medium or major oil spills anywhere and minor spills in pristine waters.
- Numbered highway closures directly due to a release, spill or discharge of hazardous materials.
- An emergency requiring authorization for opening the New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund.
Incidents that do not meet immediate response criteria are referred to qualified county and local agencies for attention. Significant incidents such as major oil spills, chemical explosions or chemical fires with casualties or mass evacuations normally generate a joint regional response with the NJ State Police Office of Emergency Management. State support continues on-site until the emergency is terminated.
Today, the department's mandate includes a much broader spectrum of threats including natural disasters, pathogenic outbreaks and terrorism.
New Jersey's unique nexus of ecological diversity, population and industry present a unique challenge for the responders of the department's emergency management section.
Emergency Management is the department's point of contact for sites with explosive hazards. It oversees the majority of the Munitions and Explosives of Concern (MEC) cleanups under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Military Munitions Response Program. We provide technical expertise along with advice and direction to all other programs within NJDEP where explosive hazards are a concern. Emergency Management interacts with the Division of Fish & Wildlife - Bureau of Law Enforcement, County Offices of Emergency Management, State Police Arson Bomb and, Department of Defense - Explosive Ordnance Disposal units in NJ Emergency Management's mission in this area is to prevent injuries from sites containing MEC hazards.
Surf City beach cleanup unearths more WWI-era munitions | source: NJ.com
The Environmental Equipment Service Center
The new location of the environmental Equipment Service Center will continue the mission of providing logistical support and equipment service for the department's field operatives. This mission includes maintaining a vast array of general and task specific instruments and equipment, as well as personal protective and safety equipment, spill related materials and related logistics. These materials are ready for rapid deployment into the field whenever and wherever they are needed.
The instrument lab maintains and provides a variety of monitoring and sampling equipment. Equipment is maintained in deployment ready status. This equipment is primarily specific to the missions of the department, but through its expanding role to support our state and local partners, the equipment lab has expanded its inventory in support of these other agencies and their roles and responsibilities.
This expanding role beyond its service to the department to include providing materials and services to our state and county partners through interagency agreements and the County Environmental Health Act. Participating agencies can obtain materials from the equipment center at a reduced unit cost from existing stocks. This cooperative effort helps all participating agencies reduce their operating costs and operate more efficiently, while at the same time promoting coordinated enhanced interoperability. At this time, the equipment center works with agencies of all 21 counties of the state, New Jersey State Police and Department of Transportation.
The Environmental Equipment Service Center (EESC) Is Moving
Environmental Equipment Service Center (EESC) has moved from the
Windsor location to the DOT Campus located on Parkway Avenue in Ewing Township.