Frequently Asked Questions

How should departments notify MassDEP if their oil spill trailer is used? 

Anytime a community's trailer is used to respond to a spill, contact MassDEP's 24 hr spill line at 1-888-304-1133

Contacting MassDEP’s spill line will connect the caller to MassDEP’s Emergency Response (ER) personnel who have extensive experience in responding to releases of oil and hazardous materials and ensuring adequate response actions are taken to contain and mitigate a spill.  In addition, ER personnel can activate a state-funded contractor if needed.  If a responsible party is not identified or not able to take appropriate response actions, MassDEP can task its contractors with deploying, tending and deconning boom, disposing impacted media such as sorbent boom and pads, as well as other response actions.

Following an incident (and notification to the spill line above), MassDEP will restock supplies used during an incident. For restocking needs or if there is an issue with the trailer (flat tire, etc.), please contact the 24 hr spill line or MassDEP’s Julie Hutcheson at 617-556-1191 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

How are participating departments compensated for backfill and overtime after an exercise? 

Beginning in 2014, backfill and overtime (BF/OT) funding for the majority of participating first responders will come directly from MassDEP’s Oil Spill Prevention and Response Fund. Funding is capped at $2,000 maximum per town. Previously, funding for each exercise came from the regional homeland security councils (SRPEDD, NERAC, and UASI). UASI still reimburses for all Boston personnel. The BF/OT package can be accessed here.

What can departments expect from oil spill trailer maintenance and inspections? 

MassDEP has agreed to provide routine maintenance on the trailer and equipment and to restock those consumable items that have been used during response to an oil spill.  On an annual basis the MassDEP, through it’s contractor Moran Environmental Recovery, will inspect the trailer and its contents and conduct an inventory of equipment.  As part of this annual inventory consumable and non-consumable items will be replaced to restore the trailer to its original inventory.   If a major event occurs during the year that results in the use of consumable items in quantities that replacement is required prior to the annual inspection please follow the above notification procedure and MassDEP will arrange to replace or restock the equipment as soon as possible.

It is requested that each community inspect the interior and exterior of the oil spill response trailer periodically during the year and to report to MassDEP any damage, vandalism or maintenance issue identified.  It is also the responsibility of each community to store the unit in a secure location and to limit access to authorized individuals.  To assist MassDEP in the accurate tracking and maintenance please provide updated information if the trailer is moved to a new storage location or if the Town’s point of contact changes.

What are GRP?

GRP are oil spill response plans tailored to protect a specific sensitive area from impacts following a spill. These response plans are map-based strategies that can save time during the critical first few hours of an oil spill response. They show responders where sensitive areas are located and where to place oil spill protection resources.

GRP have been developed in several regions of the U.S., including Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Maine, and New Hampshire. In nearly all areas, the GRP (sometimes referred to as GRS, geographic response strategies) represent the consensus product of a planning effort involving state and federal oil spill response agencies, natural resource trustees, spill responders, industry, stakeholders, and the public.

Why develop GRP?

The initial phase of an oil spill response can be quite hectic. Multiple objectives must be met using available resources and responders. At the local level, residents and emergency responders are often the first ones to show up at the shoreline, eager to act before the spilled oil reaches sensitive shoreline environments.

The process of developing GRP brings together diverse groups in a non-emergency setting to discuss environmental sensitivities, protection priorities, response strategies, and response constraints. GRP development fosters local buy-in and creates realistic expectations for protecting sensitive areas from oil spill impacts.

GRP use standard terminology and tactics presented in a field-oriented format so that responders can easily recognize and implement the strategies. Because of this standardization, GRPs are an important tool for training and preparedness as well as response.

How are GRP used?

GRP are tactical plans that provide a set of “directions” to initial responders for how to protect environmentally sensitive areas and resources from oil impacts. GRP sites are selected based on several criteria, and response strategies are developed for those sites in advance of an oil spill. When local responders arrive at the scene, they now have an implementation to deploy pre-staged equipment at sensitive sites.

The Massachusetts GRP will be incorporated into the appropriate Area Plan for oil spill and hazardous materials response. While these plans are NOT a mandate for site protection or response, they are available to government and private industry oil spill responders if needed.

How are GRP developed?

A collaborative Planning Group will oversee Massachusetts GRP development. The group will begin by selecting candidate sites for the GRP area (note: the Cape and Islands region has been selected for the first round of GRP development beginning in 2007). Information will be compiled about candidate sites through sensitivity maps, local knowledge, site surveys, trustee agency input, and public comment.

A Tactics sub-group will be responsible for identifying a set of “core” oil spill response tactics appropriate for the Massachusetts shoreline based on the spill response resources available to first responders, the resources at risk, and the coastal geomorphology. These core tactics will then be applied to each GRP site in order to meet the particular protection goals.

GRP are drafted, reviewed, and when possible field-verified. Field testing may result in modifications to the GRP. GRP can be tested during scheduled training exercises, unannounced readiness drills, or actual oil spills. An important part of the process is to keep these documents “evergreen” by updating them as needed.

Who will be involved in the MassDEP GRP project?

A GRP Planning Group is being formed to oversee the MassDEP GRP project. This group, which is co-chaired by several state and federal agencies, includes representatives of local government, the oil industry, spill response experts, natural resource trustees, stakeholder groups, and the public.

All Planning Group meetings will be open to the public and meeting information will be published on the project website.

Contact Us

MassDEP, Boston Office:
Julie Hutcheson
One Winter Street
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 556-1191
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MassDEP, Northeast Regional Office: 
Kingsley Ndi
205 Lowell Street
Wilmington, MA 01887
(978) 694-3379
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MassDEP, Southeast Regional Office: 
Dan Crafton
20 Riverside Drive
Lakeville, MA 02347
(508) 946-2721
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Nuka Research & Planning Group:
Mike Popovich
10 Samoset St.
Plymouth, MA 02360
(508) 746-1047
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