In the Northwestern United States, spill contingency planning occurs through a very collaborative process. Shortly after the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 was passed, the Region 10 Regional Response Team and three Area Committees (Environmental Protection Agency Inland Area Committee and US Coast Guard Coastal Portland and Puget Sound Area Committees) decided to combine contingency planning documents. The result was the publishing of the Northwest Area Contingency Plan (NWACP) which has also been signed by the states of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. In the late 1990's, these organizations were further combined to form a single planning and preparedness body, the Regional Response Team (RRT) 10/Northwest Area Committee (RRT10/NWAC).

In 2003, the RRT10/NWAC launched a new web site to provide all planning and preparedness information in the northwest ( The web site includes the Northwest Area Contingency Plan, 29 Geographic Response Plans, fact sheets, the RRT10/NWAC Strategic Plan, jurisdictional boundary maps, an Area exercise schedule, equipment availability lists, workgroup charters and action plans, meeting minutes, and the ability to submit comments and join a list serv.

As a companion to the public web site, a private password-protected extranet portal web site has also been established. This private web site has become an invaluable planning tool to bring the large number of organizations involved in the planning and preparedness process across three states together. It facilitates the rapid and efficient review and comment on documents and the tracking and responding to comments from stakeholders. It also provides a centralized location to post documents to be shared and allows members given access to the private site to interface directly with the public web site by “publishing” certain items from the private to the public web site without going through a Webmaster. The private site also provides a secure location to make sensitive information such as contact names and phone numbers and specific activation and communications plans available to responders but not the general public.

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Author notes

1 The private and public web sites discussed in this paper were developed for EPA by Ecology & Environment, Inc. under the Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team (START) contract using Dreamweaver software developed by MacroMedia, Inc.