National Response Center Law and Legal Definition

The National Response Center (NRC) is the U.S. federal government's national communications center. The NRC is the single federal point of contact for reporting all hazardous substances and oil spills. The NRC receives all reports of releases involving hazardous substances and oil that trigger the federal notification requirements under several laws. The Center reports and co-ordinates responses to pollution by oil and hazardous substances.

The NRC was developed as a result of the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan. The Center started its operations in 1974 at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The NRC is staffed 24 hours a day by U.S. Coast Guard officers and marine science technicians.

NRC watch standers enter telephonic reports of pollution incidents into the Incident Reporting Information System (IRIS) and immediately relay each report to the pre-designated Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC). The NRC also provides emergency response support to the FOSC's. The Center also collects available information on the size and nature of the release, the facility or vessel involved, and the party responsible for the release. The NRC maintains reports of all releases and spills in a national database.

Additionally, the NRC is responsible for receiving reports of incidents involving hazardous materials regulated by the Department of Transportation under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act and reportable under 49 CFR 171 for the transportation of hazardous materials, 49 CFR 191 for natural gas and other gases transported by pipeline, and 49 CFR 195 for liquids transported by pipeline.