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How were the Massachusetts GRSs Developed?

A collaborative Work Group was formed within each GRS region to oversee GRS development. The workgroups included representation from state and federal agencies, local governments and organizations, stakeholder groups, the oil industry, and spill response professionals. 

The group began by selecting candidate sites for their respective region using three primary criteria:

1) Vulnerability: is the site vulnerable to oil spills?
2) Sensitivity – What are the sensitivities (environmental, historical/cultural, socio-economical) at each site?
3) Is the site Protectable?


Information was compiled for each candidate site using existing sensitivity index maps, local knowledge, site surveys, trustee agency input, and public comment.

​A Tactics Guide was developed that identifies and outlines a “core” set of 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 were then be applied to each GRS site in order to meet the particular protection goals.

After the GRS were created, the two regional area committees in Massachusetts as well as each regional workgroup reviewed and approved them. All 160 GRS have now been incorporated into the respective Area Contingency Plans.

An important part of the GRS development process is to keep these documents “evergreen” by updating them as needed.  Since 2009, MassDEP sponsors an ongoing GRS field-testing, training, and exercise program to test the validity of the GRS tactics that have been developed.  Field-testing has and continues to result in modifications and improvements to these GRS. Aside from these annual, MassDEP-sponsored testing and training exercises, GRS can also be tested during other scheduled training exercises, unannounced readiness drills, or actual oil spills.

North Shore Meeting Schedule: 2009
North Shore Historical

North Shore GRS Kick-off Meeting

Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 

Meeting Summary

Site Selection Workshop

Date: Thursday, May 14, 2009 

Meeting Summary

Site selection matrix 

Draft GRS Review Meeting

Date: Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Meeting Summary

Area Committee Meeting

Date: November 24, 2009

Boston Harbor Meeting Schedule: 2010
Boston Harbor History

Boston Harbor GRS Kick-off Meeting

Date: Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Site Selection Meetings

Date: Tuesday, May 25, 2010, and Thursday, May 20, 2010

Site selection matrix

Meeting Summaries for May 25 and May 20

Tactics Sub-group Meeting

Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meeting Summary

South Shore Meeting Schedule: 2011
South Shore History

South Shore GRS Kick-Off Meeting

Date: Thursday, March 31, 2011

Meeting Summary

South Shore Site Selection Meeting

Date: Thursday, April 28, 2011

Meeting Summary

site selection matrix

Tactics Sub-group Meeting

Date: Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Meeting Summary

Work Group Meeting

Date: Thursday, September 29, 2011

Meeting Summary

Cape & Islands History
Cape & Islands Meeting Schedule: 2007

Cape and Islands GRS Planning Group Meeting

Date: September 20, 2007 -

Draft GRS Layout

Meeting Summary

Cape and Islands GRS Tactics Work Group Meeting

Date: August 15, 2007

Meeting Summary

Cape and Islands GRS Kick-off Meeting

Date: June 26, 2007

Meeting Summary

Site selection matrix

Cape & Islands Meeting Schedule: 2008

Cape and Islands GRS Planning Group Meeting

Date: February 27, 2008

Meeting Summary

Mt. Hope Bay Meeting Schedule: 2012
Mt. Hope Bay History

Mt. Hope Bay GRS Kick-Off Meeting

Date: Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Meeting Summary

Mt. Hope Bay GRS Site Selection Meeting

Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meeting Summary

Site selection matrix 

Mt. Hope Bay GRS Tactics Sub-Group Meeting

Date: Thursday, September 27, 2012

Meeting Summary

Mt. Hope Bay Draft GRS Review Meeting

Date: Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Meeting Summary

Buzzards Bay GRS Development Process
Buzzards Bay History

An initial version of the Buzzards Bay GRS was developed in 2005 through a MassDEP project completed by USCG Sector Southeast New England Area Committee members and Local Responders. These GRS were updated in 2007-2008 through a partnership between the ten municipalities surrounding Buzzards Bay, The Coalition for Buzzards Bay, Nuka Research and Planning Group, LLC, and MassDEP. Additional input has been provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Mass Division of Marine Fisheries, and the United States Coast Guard.

The process used to update the Buzzards Bay GRS included presentations to community leaders in each community and input from the general public. Following the presentations, the first responders from each town were organized into workgroups and asked to review and make changes to the existing GRS. Each workgroup also surveyed the selected locations within their municipality to verify the appropriateness of each strategy. The presentations, workgroup meetings, and surveys were facilitated by staff from the Coalition for Buzzards Bay between October 2007 and February 2008. The changes to the GRS include: modifications to oil spill response tactics to better reflect the capabilities of local responders; the addition of new sites not selected in the original Buzzards Bay GRS project; and additional detail added to equipment lists and access point guides for each strategy. A total of 55 locations were selected for GRS strategies within the ten Buzzards Bay municipalities.

After collecting the data for the GRS updates, the project was passed along to Nuka Research and Planning Group, LLC to reformat the strategies to be consistent with other statewide GRS projects. By doing so, all completed and future GRS for the state of Massachusetts will have a similar format and use consistent terminology thus aiding in a coordinated response across GRS regions to any potential or actual oil spills.

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