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Are facilities required to use an Integrated Contingency Plan?

A number of federal statutes and regulations require emergency response planning (e.g., risk management planning under the Clean Air Act Section 112(r), contingency planning under RCRA, and facility response planning under the Oil Pollution Act). On June 5, 1996, the National Response Team (NRT), published the Integrated Contingency Plan ("One Plan") Guidance (61 FR 28642), providing a mechanism by which a facility may consolidate multiple emergency response plans into one functional plan. Is a facility required to integrate its emergency response plans? Must a facility use the Integrated Contingency Plan (ICP) format specified in the guidance?

Adherence to the ICP guidance is not required, but the NRT believes that a single functional plan is preferable to multiple plans. The ICP is intended to streamline the emergency planning process of those facilities that may be subject to one or more federal emergency planning regulation (the ICP does not address state emergency planning requirements). While not affecting the substantive requirements of these federal regulations, the NRT developed a mechanism by which the components of the emergency plans may be incorporated into a single document.

The guidance provides a sample format for an ICP. The plan is divided into three parts: an introductory section, a core plan, and a series of supporting annexes. The steps necessary to initiate, conduct, and terminate an emergency response action are found in the core plan. The annexes provide detailed support information based on the procedures detailed in the core plan. Because the core plan is designed to provide only the most essential response steps, the core plan should frequently reference the annexes. The annexes may further reference other plans (e.g., area contingency plans under OPA, local emergency planning committee plans under EPCRA) to facilitate their integration with the facility's ICP. If a facility submits an ICP for review and approval by a federal agency, the plan should cross-reference existing emergency response regulatory requirements and their location in the plan.

Though the NRT's ICP guidance represents the federally preferred method of response planning, a facility is not required to implement the format outlined in the guidance. The NRT is aware that alternate formats exist and others will likely be developed; however, the NRT anticipates that future federal emergency response planning regulations will incorporate use of the ICP guidance. Additionally, developers of state and local requirements will be encouraged to be consistent with the ICP guidance.