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Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)

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 revenues, etc.

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.

General Resources: