The role of the Environmental Contaminants Program in the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to protect wildlife and their habitat from pollution's harmful effects. The Program’s main responsibilities include:
- - Spill Incident Planning and Response
- - Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR)
- - Identification and Assessment of Potential Environmental Hazards
- - Technical Support
Spill Incident Planning and Response
Environmental contaminant specialists work throughout the year to prevent oil and chemical spills from occurring by coordinating with other Federal, state and local partners as well as industry to draft or update spill response plans and participate in spill contingency exercises. In the event that a spill does occur, contaminant biologists work to minimize the impacts to natural resources by providing scientific technical support to the Federal On-Scene Coordinator, suggesting preventive countermeasures to protect resources at risk, participating in search and rescue operations for injured wildlife, and initiating natural resource damage assessment activities.
Oil spill response action. Photo: USFWS
Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program (NRDAR)
When trust species, or their habitats, are harmed by the release of contaminants into the environment, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Program responds by: 1) gathering data to assess and quantify those injuries, and 2) working with those responsible to ensure that the public is appropriately compensated for what was lost.
In Georgia, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, acting by and through the Department of the Interior, is currently participating in two NRDAR cases. A link to the Service’s NRDAR cases in Georgia can be found here.
Identification and Assessment of Potential Environmental Hazards
Environmental contaminant specialists strive to identify, document and assess potentially toxic hazards so as to protect the public’s natural resources and reduce the pollution exposure risk to wildlife. On lands that are owned and maintained by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the benefit of wildlife, contaminant specialists 1) perform contaminant screening surveys on future property to be acquired by the Service, 2) identify past, current, and future contaminant threats to National Wildlife Refuges and other Service lands through the Contaminant Assessment Process (CAP), and 3) perform focused investigations on areas of concern for Refuge lands. Contaminant specialists also conduct investigations on non-Refuge lands.
|Level I survey on Okefenokee NWR.
||Underground storage tank removal on Harris Neck NWR.
Environmental contaminant specialists provide technical support and recommendations to staff within the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as to other Federal, state and local agencies regarding contaminant issues and wildlife toxicology. They review environmental documents, legislation, regulations, and permits and licenses with pollution potential (e.g., for pesticide use or wastewater treatment). This assistance serves to ensure that natural resources are protected to the extent possible before certain actions are undertaken, for example, before the use of pesticides for controlling undesirable invasive species or the cleanup of hazardous waste sites.
Link to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Environmental Quality:
The USFWS Division of Environmental Quality