An Agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Emergency Support Team (VEST) Status Green, Steady State

VEOC Activation Status: Green, Steady State

Technological Hazards

Mission Statement

Administer a statewide hazardous materials emergency response program to protect human health and the environment and ensure the safety of emergency responders from the effects of hazardous or dangerous materials incidents.

Execution

The Technological Hazards Branch exists to provide the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia with enhanced, state-of-the-art technical response capabilities and an extensive, multi-level, broad-based planning and training program. It is a proactive, comprehensive, and integrated program that coordinates the efforts of the Commonwealth of Virginia Hazardous Materials Officers, Regional Hazardous Materials Response Teams, and Local Emergency Planning Committees. It supports the efforts of local government, fire, rescue, and police agencies, as well as the federal government and private industry, in planning for and responding to the full spectrum of hazardous and radiological materials incidents. The branch is also the agency proponent for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) training, planning, and operational response.

Snapshot/Statistics

On average, each year the Branch…

  • Receives approximately 1,500 release notifications;
  • Responds to more than 160 hazardous materials incidents;
  • Activates the regional hazardous materials response teams more than 30 times;
  • Supports approximately 10 two-week courses and the Commonwealth’s Hazardous Materials Conference.

Technological Hazards Branch Chief

  • Serves as the senior subject matter expert on all hazardous materials and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) issues and incidents in the Commonwealth for the State Coordinator and may respond statewide or nationally during emergencies as a representative of the State Coordinator or Governor.
  • Ensure statewide responses to hazardous materials emergencies/CBRNE incidents, to include the technical and safety aspects of on-scene response, are handled rapidly and efficiently;
  • Provide emergency response guidance and assistance to regional response officers during emergency response activities and serve as the state-on-scene coordinator (SOSC);
  • Supervise the Hazardous Materials Officers during emergency response operations, ensuring that program goals are met and daily activities and special tasks related to the program are completed in a timely and efficient manner;
  • Develop and administer the branch budget;
  • Ensure that the Hazardous Materials Officers and state response personnel are fully equipped and personnel training standards are met;
  • Supervise the development and the annual agency-sponsored Hazardous Materials Conference;
  • Represent the Department at meetings of boards, councils, and advisory groups concerned with hazardous materials emergency response and hazardous materials training programs.

Regional Hazardous Materials Officer

  • Provide guidance, training, response and recovery assistance to local governments and state agencies during hazardous materials/CBRNE emergencies and disasters. Develop and maintain a state hazardous materials emergency response program and to enhance local hazardous materials emergency response capabilities.
  • Direct initial response to hazardous materials/CBRNE emergencies in assigned geographical area;
    Provide ongoing monitoring of local environmental conditions and identify the presence of hazardous materials; Implement defensive mitigation practices and directs emergency decontamination processes;
  • Oversee HAZMAT response teams and/or environmental clean-up contractors to ensure objectives are met;
  • Coordinate with federal, state, and local agencies during and after emergencies;
  • Participate in the development and delivery of hazardous materials emergency response training;
  • Ensure that assigned response team(s) meet(s) all annual training requirements;
  • Interact with state and local government through planning meetings, training, and related exercises;
  • Coordinate resources, prioritizes goals, and establishes schedules to complete program assignments;
  • Accounts for, maintains, and repairs all issued equipment;
  • Makes entry into hazardous areas wearing appropriate protective equipment when required.

Radiological Protection

  • Assist with the development, maintenance, and implementation of the state radiological emergency response program which enhances local emergency response capabilities. Manage the radiological protection system and provides coordination, response, training, equipment, facilities, technical support, and planning assistance. Make entry into hazardous areas for the purpose of assessment or mitigation.
  • Perform the duties of the Radiological Protection Officer;
  • Manage the state radiological protection program including the administration, organization, and coordination of the program at all levels of state and local government;
  • Provide technical guidance and support on radiological protection programs, procedures, and policies to the state coordinator and other applicable state and local agencies;
  • Act as a liaison for local, state, and federal agencies;
  • Coordinate radiological training with applicable federal, state, local, private, and industry organizations;
  • Develop, implement; and conduct radiological training programs;
  • Maintain the radiological shipment monitoring program;
  • Provide technical guidance on shipments and regulations to applicable state and local agencies.

Hazardous Materials Training

  • Coordinate special projects and research in support of the Program’s and Agency’s mission and to enhance local hazardous materials emergency response capabilities.
  • Conduct program research and special projects to support the Program’s training and response missions;
  • Conduct research studies on HAZMAT/CBRNE practices that may impact the Program’s or Agency’s mission;
  • Provide technical assistance and guidance to the Training, Education, and Exercise Division to support the development and delivery of advanced hazardous materials emergency response training programs.

Branch Activities

  • Emergency Response
  • Technical Support
  • Radiological Equipment Program
  • Training
  • Local Emergency Planning Committees

Emergency Response

  • Provide 24-hour hazardous materials/CBRNE emergency support and response capabilities to local and state agencies within the Commonwealth;
  • Coordinate with local, state, and federal agencies before, during, and after emergencies or disasters;
  • Respond to assist local governments during emergencies and natural disasters and provide recovery assistance;
  • Provide oversight and support to the hazardous materials emergency response teams under agreement with the Commonwealth;

Technical Support

Provide guidance and identify options for local jurisdictions and state agencies in regards to hazardous materials and CBRN response;
Develop and disseminate new information on current trends and emerging threats.

Radiological Equipment Program

  • Develop and maintain radiological survey and dose control equipment for hazardous materials response assets and local jurisdictions participating in the
  • radiological emergency preparedness program associated with the new nuclear power stations found within Virginia;
  • Maintain a list of radioactive material shippers and a schedule to track when shipments are made within the Commonwealth;

Training

  • Provide public safety hazardous materials training assistance to local and state agencies and boards;
  • Develop hazardous materials emergency response training programs;
  • Manage and deliver the Commonwealth’s advanced hazardous materials training program;
  • Work with the Training, Education, and Exercise Division to support the field delivery of these programs;
  • Develop and deliver radiological emergency preparedness training for local radiological officers and emergency assembly center staff;
  • Track certification for agency-certified Hazardous Materials Technicians and Specialists.

Local Emergency Planning Committees

  • Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) are local jurisdiction-based organizations made up of local officials, local response assets, public health and hospital officials, environmental specialists, citizens, media and local facilities that work together to prepare for chemical emergencies;
  • Originally authorized under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), LEPCs work to develop the local or regional emergency response plan to chemical emergencies and provides information regarding chemicals in their communities to its citizens.
  • Virginia has 104 LEPCs currently rostered as of January, 2021.
  • For more information on LEPCs, the work they do, and tools to help them, please see these external sites:
    • US EPA – https://www.epa.gov/epcra/local-emergency-planning-committees
    • National Association of SSARA Title III Program Officials (NASTTPO) – https://nasttpo.com/
    • EPA Chemical Emergency Preparedness for Tribes – https://www.epa.gov/rmp/chemical-emergency-preparedness-and-prevention-tribal-lands
    • Energize Your Local Emergency Planning Committee – https://www.epa.gov/epcra/energize-your-local-emergency-planning-committees-lepc
    • Emerging Risks Response Training: LEPC/Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act – https://www.nrt.org/Main/Resources.aspx?
    • ResourceType=Training%20and%20Educational%20Materials&ResourceSection=3

Resources

Contacts