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Narragansett Bay Campus, Room 124, Narragansett, RI 02882


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SSEER – Scientific Support for Environmental Emergency Response

(Formerly part of the Bay Assessment & Response Team (BART))

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SSEER members may access forms, resources, and event information by logging into the internal SSEER site here:  If you do not remember your log-in, please contact


Scientific Support for Environmental Emergency Response (SSEER) is codified in a Memorandum of Understanding with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), Office of Emergency Response. It is intended to improve environmental emergency preparedness in Rhode Island by enabling a state agency to deploy university resources to assess, reduce, or remediate threats to public health and safety and the environment. The Coastal Institute maintains a roster of university and statewide expertise and resources that could assist the state in responding to an environmental emergency, and provides oversight, direction, review and implementation of the agreement with RIDEM.



The URI Coastal Institute and the RIDEM Office of Emergency Response began a series of meetings and workshops in 2000 to explore how best to engage URI assets (people, technology, and equipment) during and after environmental emergency responses. A number of key scientific URI personnel were unable to serve the State of Rhode Island and RIDEM during the North Cape oil spill (Moonstone Beach, RI) in 1996 because the Responsible Party (RP) quickly engaged their services immediately after the incident. Once engaged with the RP, URI scientists could not work on behalf of Rhode Island. The initial meetings in 2000 focused on identifying URI scientists and lab resources that would be called upon to serve the State of Rhode Island. Many of the workshops dealt with scientific protocols that have to be followed by URI scientists for their data to be used in the highly litigious settlement process between the RP and the State of Rhode Island. This included topics such as chain of command and custody of samples, having data embargoed from publication until it is cleared by the settlement team, and guidelines for communicating with the media. The Rhode Island Oil Spill Science Team (RIOST) was created to unify the academic and RIDEM partners in emergency response preparedness. RIOST was formalized as a MOA between URI and DEM in a relationship called BART – Bay Assessment and Response Team. BART superseded RIOST. In 2005, an open Purchase Order was established with the Department of Administration between RIDEM and URI to rapidly engage URI personnel and services in an emergency event. This made it possible for URI to recover costs associated with an emergency event. BART expanded to SSEER as we went beyond oil spills to include all forms of environmental emergencies; e.g., flooding, ice storms, hurricanes and nor’easters, and chemical spills. BART remains part of the RI DEM and its aim is rapid, effective response to environmental incidents on Narragansett Bay:


In the event of an environmental emergency, RIDEM Office of Emergency Response activates the SSEER network. Responsive work is approved by the RIDEM and through a work order process following the appropriate protocols based on the nature of the emergency.


To request to be added to the SSEER roster, please complete the form at this link. To view the 2016 SSEER roster, click here.


In the event of an emergency, please do not contact members of the SSEER roster for information. To ensure clear and precise information in service of the public, the Incident Commander or designated Public Information Officer will be responding to the media.



To be added to the SSEER mailing list, please complete this form.

To learn more about SSEER, please contact:

Judith Swift
Director, University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute

Pete August
Professor, University of Rhode Island, Department of Natural Resources



SSEER Roster
SSEER Work Order Form
SSEER Chain of Custody Policies and Procedures
SSEER Protocol Agreement

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