DEEPWATER HORIZON NATURAL RESOURCE DAMAGE ASSESSMENT PROCESS
After an oil or hazardous material spill, agencies like the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) or the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) clean up
the substance and eliminate or reduce risks to human health and
the environment. But these efforts may not fully restore damaged
natural resources or address their lost uses by the public. Through
the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Damage Assessment
Remediation and Restoration Program (DARRP), as well as other
federal and state co-trustees, conduct studies to identify the
extent of damages, the best methods for restoring natural resources,
and the type and amount of restoration required.
NOAA conducts three steps in an NRDA which include: 1) a Preliminary
Assessment, 2) an Injury
Assessment & Restoration Plan, and 3) Restoration Implementation.
Although the concept of assessing damages may sound simple, understanding
complex ecosystems, the services these ecosystems provide, and
the injuries caused by oil and hazardous substances takes time — often years. The season the resource was damaged, the
type of oil or hazardous substance, and the amount and duration
of the release are among the factors that affect how quickly resources
are assessed and restoration and recovery occurs. The rigorous
scientific studies that are necessary to prove injury to resources
and services — and withstand scrutiny in a court of law
— may also take years to implement and complete.
NRDA is for public claims only. There is a separate claim process
for private concerns, such as damage to private property, lost
NRDA for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began immediately afterthe spill. This website provides the public
with general information on the NRDA process, as well as information
specific to the Gulf of Mexico spill. Content is continually updated.