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New "How To" Document - Cooperative Damage Assessments

Date Posted: June 4, 2007

Although the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration process is conceptually simple, an oil spill or hazardous substance release often involves complicated technical and legal issues. This has historically led to an assessment process where both the parties responsible for the spill (Responsible Parties) and the state and federal agencies responsible for the natural resources impacted (Trustees) have conducted separate and carefully guarded studies.

However, these independent assessments were expensive and have often led to drawn out and unproductive debates over the underlying technical issues and data. The adversarial experience of the Exxon Valdez damage assessment and other early cases led Trustees and industry to seek alternative approaches.

These guidelines were developed collaboratively by industry and agency representatives and are intended to help the parties involved in a spill incident to understand what a cooperative effort entails and why it is of value.

Specifically, the document provides guidance to Trustees and Responsible Parties on how to:

1) initiate a cooperative natural resource damage assessment(NRDA) during an oil spill, and

2) move from the initial chaotic phase of response to a cooperative injury assessment as soon as possible.

The West Coast Joint Assessment Team (JAT) is an ad hoc group of representatives from various state and federal trustee agencies, spill response organizations, and representatives from the oil industry, including major and independent oil companies and oil transportation companies.

Mark Huston 703-358-2148

Recommendations for Conducting Cooperative Natural Resource Damage Assessment. West Coast Joint Assessment Team, April 2007.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - The Restoration Program

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Joint Assessment Teams (JATs)

Last updated: June 12, 2015