The US Environmental Protection Agency has a mission to protect human health and the environment. The agency’s purpose is to ensure that all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn, and work. The EPA Office of Emergency Management (OEM) works with other federal partners to prevent accidents and maintain well-tuned incident response capabilities at all levels. OEM uses experience gained from responding to thousands of smaller sites to scale up the office’s response to events such as Hurricane Irma.
In the face of a natural disaster, the primary challenge is to meet the needs of and facilitate communication among a diverse group of stakeholders. Communication flow is critical. It reduces duplicated efforts and decreases response times to ultimately save lives and protect human health in the long term. In the geographically expansive wake of a hurricane, many sources of contamination require rapid identification, assessment, and appropriate mitigation. A range of stakeholders—from local, state, and federal agencies— work around the clock to reduce or eliminate the environmental impact of compromised facilities, orphaned containers, and sunken vessels. The EPA needed to be able to create and share a single common view for all stakeholders, showing response targets and cleanup needs.