The HEER Office is responsible for responding to releases, threats of releases, or discoveries of hazardous substances, including oil, that present a substantial endangerment to public health or the environment. Responses may require:
- Emergency response (See Section 2.3 of the online Technical Guidance Manual (TGM) for more detailed information), and/or
- Longer-term, non-emergency environmental cleanup (See Section 2.4 of the online TGM for more detailed information.)
To carry out these responsibilities, the HEER Office is divided into three primary technical sections that are briefly described below and depicted in the organizational chart.
Emergency Preparedness & Response (EP&R) Section is responsible for planning, preparing for, and responding to hazardous substance release emergencies that may cause immediate threats to human health or the environment. These are generally responses to recent spills or releases of hazardous substances or discovery of abandoned containers of suspected hazardous chemicals. The EP&R responds to incidents like petroleum spills caused by vehicle accidents, a chemical plant explosion, or abandoned drums of suspected hazardous materials. This section coordinates with local public safety officials (county Hazmat/Fire and Police Departments) as well as other federal, state, and county agencies in responding to hazardous substance release emergencies. The EP&R section also conducts emergency preparedness training exercises for emergency response actions.
Site Discovery, Assessment, and Remediation (SDAR) Section is responsible for providing oversight of non-emergency environmental cleanups. This section has responsibility for review of sites with soil, sediment, and groundwater contamination identified through release notification, sites in voluntary cleanup programs, sites where contamination may remain after an initial emergency response, or sites discovered through other means. The section’s oversight responsibilities include the review of site assessments and draft/final site remediation documents by responsible parties to ensure that the environmental work meets legal requirements and results in site conditions that will be protective of human health and the environment. The section’s staff is composed of Remediation Project Managers (RPMs) working on sites within the environmental cleanup programs described on the Site Assessment and Cleanup Programs page.
Hazard Evaluation Section provides guidance and support to HEER Office staff regarding proper evaluation of environmental hazards. Hazard Evaluation Section staff establish acceptable action levels for contaminants, assess potential hazards to human health and the environment, and assist the public with information concerning health effects of chemicals. For example, the Hazard Evaluation Section was the primary section responsible for the development of the Environmental Hazard Evaluation Guidance.