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What is a Geographic Response Strategy (GRS)?

GRS's 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.

GRS have been developed in several regions of the U.S., including Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Maine, and New Hampshire. In nearly all areas, the GRS 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 GRS?

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

GRS 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, GRS are an important tool for training and preparedness as well as response.

How is a GRS used?  

GRS's are tactical plans that provide a set of “directions” to initial responders for how to protect environmentally sensitive areas and resources from oil impacts. GRS 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 GRS 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.​

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