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Natural Resource Damages Assessment and Restoration Process

  1. Identify a Release - A release of a hazardous substance or spill of a petroleum product occurs, is documented and is referred to DEC for further investigation.
  2. Identification of Potential Claims - Typically, NRD staff evaluate existing data to identify the natural resources that have been lost, destroyed or injured by the release. In some cases it may be necessary for NRD staff to perform biological, ecological, or other surveys and to take samples in order to determine whether a natural resources have been lost, destroyed or injured.
  3. Injury Assessment and Quantification of Identified Claims - If an injury to a natural resource has been identified, it is then quantified in terms of the spatial and temporal extent of the injury, including the size of the area of habitat affected and the time necessary to restore the resource to a baseline condition. This phase of the NRD process typically involves taking samples and performing biological, ecological, or other surveys. Often, DEC will coordinate with the responsible party and other federal and tribal trustees to assess injuries to natural resources.
  4. Damage Assessment and Resource Valuation - NRD staff work with other involved trustees and, at times, responsible parties, to determine appropriate compensation for the loss of natural resources. This compensation, (the damages) will include the cost to restore or replace the injured resources and the services they provide, and could include compensation for the public's lost use of a resource's services.
  5. Negotiation and Settlement - NRD attorneys and staff work with other involved trustees to seek damages from responsible parties to fund assessments and restoration plans, often resulting in a settlement between the Trustees and responsible parties.
  6. Implementation of a Restoration Plan - NRD staff consults with the public, responsible parties, co-Trustees and other state and federal agencies and Indian tribes to develop restoration plans, to oversee their implementation, and to monitor the success of restoration activities that will restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the injured resources and the services those resources provide.

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