skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 212317 
Title: FEMA's Place in Policy, Law, and Management: A Hazardous Materials Perspective 1979-2003 (From Homeland Security Law and Policy, P 23-55, 2005, William C. Nicholson, ed. -- See NCJ-212315)
Author(s): William R. Cumming; Richard T. Sylves
Date Published: 2005
Page Count: 33
Sponsoring Agency: Charles C. Thomas
Springfield, IL 62704
Sale Source: Charles C. Thomas
2600 South First Street
Springfield, IL 62704
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Book Chapter
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter traces the evolution of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) duties regarding hazardous materials (HAZMATS) emergencies.
Abstract: This review consists of a policy analysis, jurisdictional overview, and targeted management study of FEMA from its creation in 1979 to its absorption into the new Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003, with a focus on its HAZMATS duties. HAZMATS involve chemicals and radiological materials, so this subject overlaps weapons of mass destruction (WMD). FEMA's original disaster programs encompassed few HAZMAT duties; however, it assumed more HAZMAT authority as a result of its role in the 1978-1980 Love Canal hazardous substance contamination controversy, the 1981 explosion of hexane gas in Louisville, KY, and later through the Radiological Emergency Preparedness program. The explosion of the Soviet Union's Chernobyl nuclear power plant spurred giving FEMA even more HAZMAT authority, as did the 1984 toxic disaster in Bhopal, India. Over its 24-year history, FEMA has addressed the consequences of major oil spills, various chemical releases and explosions, and the site management and recovery from major acts of terrorism perpetrated inside the United States, along with its duty to respond to an increasing number and variety of natural disasters. FEMA's work has both humanitarian and technical features, which must be considered in determining the qualifications and job assignments of those employed as managers and line workers in the agency. With few exceptions, FEMA has chosen to emphasize its humanitarian work rather than its technical work. HAZMATS emergencies, however, often involve complex issues of science and engineering, areas of expertise inadequately represented in the FEMA's ranks. With the advent of the Department of Homeland Security following the terrorist attack of September 11th, FEMA's HAZMATS legacy will undergo further evolution, given the documented terrorist intent to use HAZMATS weaponry. 29 notes and appended supplementary information and discussion questions
Main Term(s): Domestic Preparedness
Index Term(s): Antiterrorist laws; Counter-terrorism tactics; Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Federal legislation; Hazardous substances or materials; Terrorist tactics; Terrorist weapons; US Patriot Act
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.