The Emergency Prevention and Response Section (EPRS) includes the Emergency Response Group (ERG). The ERG has three full-time responders, who work with the officers in DNREC's Environmental Crimes Unit and additional volunteer DNREC staff to form DNREC's Emergency Response Team (ERT). The ERT maintains a rapid, comprehensive, 24/7 response to emergency and non-emergency statewide petroleum and hazardous substance incidents for the protection of human health, safety, and the environment. The ERT also responds outside the state when an incident in Delaware is impacting a neighboring state or when an incident originating in a neighboring state is impacting Delaware.
DNREC's ERT is a member of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT). In addition to ERT, SERT members include the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, the Delaware State Fire School, the Delaware State Police, the Division of Public Health, local and county government agencies and local fire companies. The ERT is tasked with managing the site of an incident, including:
- establishing and directing technical matters such as site health and safety issues;
- determining the need for additional resources;
- accumulating and evaluating information; and
- interacting with support agencies.
The SERT implements the Incident Management System, a standard system for organizing state/county agency response to a hazardous substance release or a significant oil release.
The ERT is also responsible for directing and coordinating activities related to scientific evaluation including interpretation of monitoring results, planning control and remedial actions, and the development of sampling plans. In addition to responding to an incident, the ERT preplans and coordinates response issues both internally and externally.
The Emergency Prevention and Response Section maintains multiple response vehicles, decontamination equipment, and response and spill containment trailers. The units contain equipment and materials that are necessary to respond to most petroleum and other hazardous substance releases. The ERT responds to a variety of incidents, such as:
- residential heating oil tank releases;
- small mercury spills;
- oil tanker spills in Delaware waters;
- indoor air quality;
- chemical railcar leaks;
- abandonment of unidentified chemical drums;
- leaking underground storage tanks (commercial and residential); and
- chemical, petroleum, biological and radiological incidents in any media (air, land, surface and ground water).
Over the past ten years, the Emergency Response Team has had an average of 352 incidents per year (one incident per day). In the last year, the following trend has been: 50 percent of the incidents involved petroleum releases; 50 percent of the total incidents occurred in New Castle County; and 60 percent of the incidents involved only the Emergency Response Team.
Reports of incidents requiring a response by the Emergency Response Team or the State Emergency Response Team are handled by the DNREC's TOLL-FREE 24-HOUR COMPLAINT LINE, 1-800-662-8802.