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Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assesssment - Description of the Process

Introduction

Over the next few years, and in coordination with the EPA's Hudson River Reassessment, the Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees - the United States Department of the Interior (DOI), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) - will be conducting a Natural Resource Damages Assessment (NRDA) associated with General Electric's PCB contamination of the Hudson River below Hudson Falls.

The process has its origins in the natural resource damages (NRD) provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as CERCLA or the federal Superfund law.

The overall purpose of these NRD provisions is to compensate the public for natural resource losses they have suffered from the release of hazardous substances by restoring the injured resources and by enhancing natural resources and their use by people. Compensation may be in the form of monetary damages or, preferably, in actual restoration projects. The trustees have been and will continue following the Federal Regulations for Natural Resource Damages Assessments (43 CFR Part 11) to guide this process.

In October 1997, the Trustees took the first step in the NRDA process. We issued the Hudson River Preassessment Screen which was based on existing data concerning the resource impacts of PCB's. The preassessment screen documents the Trustees' determination that conditions in the River warrant a natural resource damage assessment.

In June of 2001 the Trustees released the report : Injuries to Hudson River Fishery Resources (pdf file 1197 Kb - This file takes approximately 6 minutes to download with a 28.8 kbps modem). This report traces the history of fish consumption advisories in the Hudson River in response to PCB contamination.

In the Fall of 2001 the Trustees initiated the Hudson River Fish Health Assessment study (pdf file, 156 Kb) in the Hudson River. This study will investigate whether fish in areas highly contaminated with PCBs show more indicators of injury than fish from reference areas that are less contaminated with PCBs. Fish will be examined for evidence of internal and external lesions, tumors, or other abnormalities and diseases, parasites, and other immune system indicators.

In the winter of 2002 the Trustees released the report entitled Progress Report on Hudson River Mammals: Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) Levels in Mink, Otter, and Muskrat and Trapping Results for Mink, the Upper Hudson River Drainage, 1998-2000 (pdf file, 545 Kb). This report was implemented to help determine if mink and otter closer to the Hudson River showed higher levels of PCBs than animals farther from the river and whether these levels were having a negative effect on the reproduction of these animals.

Also during the winter of 2002, the Trustees released the fact sheet entitled Preliminary Investigations of Bird Injuries (pdf file, 60 Kb). This one page report lists the investigations that the Trustees plan on implementing in the near future to help assess the impacts of PCBs on avian wildlife near the Hudson River. To help initiate this effort the Trustees have begun the erection of over 150 Screech Owl nesting boxes that will be used to collect owl eggs for PCB contaminant analysis.

In the spring of 2002 the Trustees released the "Hudson River Natural Resources Damage Assessment; Floodplain Soil and Biota Screening Sampling Report, February 2002" (pdf file, 1753 Kb - This file takes approximately 9 minutes to download with 28.8 kbps modem). This report was implemented as a screening study to determine if the floodplain of the upper Hudson River is contaminated by PCB's and if so at what levels. Soil, earthworms and shrews were collected from 12 floodplain locations between the Saratoga Battlefield and Rogers Island and tested for PCB contamination. Earthworms were stored for analysis later in 2002.

During June 2002, the Trustees released the "Preliminary Investigation of Snapping Turtles" fact sheet (pdf file, 156 Kb) that describes the screening level study conducted by the Trustees during spring of 2002 to collect turtle eggs along the banks of the Hudson River for PCB contaminate analysis.

On September 16, 2002 the Trustees released the "Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan" (pdf file, 2019 Kb - This file takes approximately 10 minutes and 30 seconds to download with 28.8 kbps modem). This Assessment Plan provides information regarding three major steps in the assessment: pathway and injury determination, injury quantification, and damage determination and restoration. This framework is consistent with the DOI regulations and provides an effective means of considering the impacts of PCB contamination in the Hudson River environment. The purpose of the assessment plan is to ensure that the Trustees perform the assessment in a planned and systematic manner, and at a reasonable cost. The Executive Summary and Index of the Hudson River NRDA Plan are viewable in HTML; the complete plan and Summary Fact Sheets (200 Kb) are viewable in PDF format.

Draft Study Plan for Avain Investigations, 2004

Trustees for the Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment announce the release for public review of the Draft Study Plan for Spring 2004 Avian Investigations. The draft study plan describes a proposed approach to investigating avian species, particularly belted kingfisher and spotted sandpiper.

The Analytical Quality Assurance (QA) Plan: Version 2.0 describes the minimum requirements for the chemical analysis of the environmental samples that are collected in support of the NRDA. The requirements specified in this plan are designed to: (1) monitor the performance of the measurement systems to maintain statistical control and provide rapid feedback so that corrective measures can be taken before data quality is compromised and; (2) verify that reported data are sufficiently complete, comparable, representative, unbiased and precise so as to be suitable for their intended use.

Join The Hudson-NRDA Listserv To Learn About Restoring The Hudson River

The trustees have established a listserv to provide updates on the assessment and restoration efforts for the Hudson River. If you choose to join the Hudson-NRDA listserv, you will receive e-mail updates about the Hudson NRDA every three to five months.

To add yourself to the Hudson-NRDA listserv:

  1. Send a message to: requests@willamette.nos.noaa.gov
  2. Write in the subject: Subscribe hudsonnrda
  3. You will receive a confirmation e-mail to which you must reply within 24 hours.

For additional information, please contact one of the representatives listed below. If you cannot find the publication you are interested in, please call our office at 518-402-8971 for assistance.

NYSDEC

Sean Madden
Natural Resource Damages Unit
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4756
Phone: 518-402-8977
Fax: 518-402-9027
sean.madden@dec.ny.gov

NOAA

Thomas Brosnan
Damage Assessment Center
1305 East-West Highway
SSMC4 Rm 10218
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (301) 713-3038 x 186
Fax: (301) 713-4387
tom.brosnan@noaa.gov

DOI

Kathryn Jahn
US Fish & Wildlife Service
3817 Luker Rd
Cortland, NY 13045
Phone: (607) 753-9334
Fax: (607) 753-9699
kathryn_jahn@fws.gov