Research Aid: FEMA History

NCJ Number: NCJ 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
Sale: Charles C. Thomas
2600 South First Street
Springfield, IL 62704
United States
Publisher Url*:
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 33
Type: Legislation/policy analysis
Origin: United States
Language: English
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): Hazardous substances or materials ; Counter-terrorist tactics ; Terrorist tactics ; Federal Emergency Management Agency ; Antiterrorist laws ; Terrorist weapons ; Federal legislation ; US Patriot Act
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About vlg338
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1 Response to Research Aid: FEMA History

  1. wastewater1 says:

    Thank you – very informative!

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