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Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)

In the US and the European Union, companies may be liable for injury to natural resources caused by the release of hazardous substances into the environment. Government trustees responsible for stewardship of the public’s resources may require companies to restore or replace the resources and/or the ecosystem services impacted by the incident. Natural resource damages (NRD) are calculated separately from the cost of cleanup and can be greater than cleanup costs. In the US, NRD is addressed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the National Contingency Plan (NCP), the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) and some state laws. In the European Union, the Environmental Liabilities Directive (ELD) contains similar provisions.

EPS helps clients to understand NRDA liability, characterize the value of natural resources and associated services impacted by hazardous substance releases, and negotiate NRD settlements with state and federal natural resource trustees. Our NRDA services include NRDA liability management during emergency response situations (e.g., we integrate within the Incident Command to support the environmental assessment and appropriately characterize the release and environmental effects so as to assist the responsible party in managing and limiting NRDA liability). EPS’s expertise includes the use of habitat equivalency analysis (HEA), NEBA, and risk assessment to quantify and balance risks, benefits and trade-offs associated with injury determination and restoration options. Our NRDA Technical Services include prevention and preparedness, response and assessment, injury determination including baseline evaluation, restoration project development and scaling based on resource economics approaches, and state and federal trustee negotiations and settlement. Each of these are briefly described below.

Prevention and Preparedness

  • Portfolio Assessment and Management to identify potential liabilities and implement plans to mitigate risks
  • Emergency Response Liability Management Plans to help limit and manage liability in the event of a release
  • Preventative Measures and Plans to inspect and evaluate operations with a potential for release and impact to natural resources

Response and Assessment

  • Emergency Response Support
  • GIS Mapping and Web-based Information Management Systems
  • Study Design and Implementation for estimating natural resource injury (debit) and natural resource restoration (credit)
  • Human Use Evaluation and Analysis

Injury Determination and Evaluation

  • NRD process components including baseline, causation, and injury determination
  • Ecosystem Service Valuation
  • Restoration-Based Scaling and Valuation using habitat equivalency analysis (HEA) and resource equivalency analysis (REA)
  • Economic Evaluations

Restoration

  • Remedy/restoration alternative analysis
  • Project Design and Implementation, from scoping options through valuation, design, implementation, and monitoring of restoration projects

Negotiations and Settlement

  • Strategy Development for cooperative settlements and litigation cases
  • Liability Allocation and Negotiation
  • Technical Support for Negotiations
  • Communications at Public Meetings
  • Litigation and Expert Witness Support