Emergency responders in HAZMAT suits.  Courtesy of NYCEM.Building collapse.  Courtesy of NYCEM.NYPD Counterterrorism officers from the Critical Response Command on patrol at the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan on Wednesday, November 25, 2015. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office


A hazardous materials incident is a situation in which harmful substances are released into the environment. These types of releases are often classified as chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear—hence the abbreviation CBRN.

This type of release could be either accidental or intentional. Accidental incidents may result from human error, tainted food products, technological failure, or a natural disaster and may include spills, leaks, airborne releases, or seepage into uncontained areas.

Intentional releases of hazardous materials include criminal acts, such as purposeful dumping by industries to avoid regulatory requirements, or terrorist acts that target a specific location, possibly involving a dispersal device or explosive.

Whether accidental or intentional, the impacts of a CBRN event on New York City can be significant.

Find out more about CBRN releases:

CBRN – Bibliography