Guidance, Technical Assistance & Planning

Spill of National Significance

U.S. Coast Guard

National Incident Commander's (NIC) Manual for Spill of National Significance (SONS) Management (USCG Commandant Instruction M16465.6A) (2021)
This manual provides information to the members of senior U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) leadership who have the potential of being assigned to lead a spill response when a discharge of oil or release of hazardous substances becomes a Spill of National Significance (SONS). This policy governs the procedural transition to a SONS and the policy on roles and functions of the added layer of the response organization—namely, the National Incident Coordinator (NIC) staff—that is brought into play throughout the SONS event.

SONS Executive Steering Committee

Spill of National Significance (SONS) Executive Reference Guide (SERG) (2019)
The SONS Executive Reference Guide is intended to provide an explanation of the key aspects of a SONS response, including how it differs from a response to a natural disaster, which agencies and other parties lead the response, and how it is funded. The guide also provides several pertinent factsheets and supplemental information. This guide can be used to help inform senior government leaders in pre-planning for or the response to a SONS.

Spill of National Significance (SONS) Public Affairs Reference (SPAR) (2017)
Developed by the Spill of National Significance (SONS) Communications Coordination Workgroup, the SONS Public Affairs Reference (SPAR) provides Public Information Officers (PIOs) with a compilation of background materials, considerations, references, and agencies with the applicable subject matter experts on topics that are frequently asked about during oil spill responses. Topics include authorities, roles and responsibilities, source characteristics, response operations, human health impacts, environmental impacts, economic impacts, and remediation and restoration. The SPAR serves as a starting point for developing fact-based, robust responses to major media topics of interest, and a resource to help educate new PIOs to answering questions regarding oil spill responses.

Spill of National Significance (SONS) Exercise Program Decision Memo (2012)

This U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Decision Memo presents a vision for an annual Spill of National Significance (SONS) Exercise and Training Program. It realigns the SONS Exercise and Training Program to focus on increased involvement of senior agency executives and elected officials, as well as providing targeted discussion of complex and politically-sensitive national-level issues in future SONS exercises. 

The Decision Memo informs the SONS Executive Steering Committee's (ESC) direction and planning activities for the SONS Exercise and Training Program.


Working together to protect against threats to our land, air and water

United States Environmental Protection Agency United States Coast Guard United States Department of State United States Department of Defense U.S. Department of Homeland Security (FEMA) United States Department of Energy United States Department of Agriculture United States Department of Health & Human Services United States Department of the Interior United States Department of Commerce United States Department of Transportation United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission United States General Services Administration United States Department of Justice United States Department of Labor