Virginia Ecological Services
Northeast Region

Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR)

The goal of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) program is to restore natural resources harmed by the release of a hazardous substance (e.g., oil, chemicals) into the environment.  The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and other State, Tribal, and Federal partners act as “Trustees” for natural resources, including federal lands, endangered and threatened species, migratory birds and fish, and habitats supporting these species.  Trustees work with the responsible party (party responsible for release of the hazardous substance) to ensure that the resource(s) are restored fully to the pre-contamination level. 

Trustees work together to determine whether natural resources were negatively affected (injured) by the release of a hazardous substance, and determine the geographic extent and duration of the injury.  The Service works with partners in the Commonwealth, city and county agencies, academic institutions, non-profit institutions, and often the responsible party to complete studies that assess injury to natural resources.  Once studies are completed, Trustees propose potential restoration projects that will adequately compensate for the injury within a Restoration Plan that seeks input from the public.  After consideration of public input, final projects are selected and the Trustees oversee implementation and provide long-term monitoring to ensure project success.  Trustees work with the responsible party to carry out restoration activities, or will recover funds from responsible parties to carry out the restoration activities. 

NRDAR Activities in Virginia

NRDAR cases in Virginia have included Superfund sites, oil and chemical spills, and other sites of industrial contamination.  Restoration projects have included:  seabird nesting habitat restoration projects on a National Wildlife Refuge, bank stabilization and habitat restoration projects on National Wildlife Refuge lands and private property, captive propagation of endangered freshwater fish and mussel species, land acquisition and preservation, education programs, and restoration of abandoned mine lands.

Bird box on South River, hoary bat, Carolina wren, tree swallow nestlings, snapping turtle

Assessment Activity Highlight: South River Assessment
The South River, Virginia, was contaminated with mercury from a DuPont facility that operated in the 1930s and 1940s.  Trustees and DuPont have been collaborating with academic institutions and non-profit groups since 2004 to study mercury levels in a variety of organisms, such as fish, ducks, songbirds, bats, small mammals, turtles, and toads, as well as soil, sediment, and water.  These studies have documented some of the highest mercury levels in organisms ever reported.  Other studies have examined the negative effects of mercury in these organisms (e.g., the effects of mercury on songbird reproduction and on bird song). These studies have been valuable as part of the NRDAR assessment, but also have contributed  new information to the field of mercury research in wildlife. Currently the Trustees are working together with DuPont to complete injury assessment studies and to quantify the injury to natural resources.  The Draft Assessment Plan is available for review below. Restoration options are also being explored. 

tagged mussel, education activity in river, yellowfin madtom

Restoration Activity Highlight: Lone Mountain Coal Slurry Spill
In 1996 a failure in a coal slurry impoundment in Lee County, Virginia, released 6,000,000 gallons of coal slurry into the Powell River watershed for more than 20 miles downstream  The coal slurry spill impacted federally listed threatened and endangered fish and mussels and aquatic habitat.  Other organisms, such as bats and migratory birds may have been affected due to possible accumulation of contaminants through the food chain.  As a part of this settlement, over 500 acres of riparian land in southwestern Virginia have been preserved in partnership with The Nature Conservancy to protect habitat for aquatic organisms, and other species, such as bats and songbirds.  To replace the freshwater mussels killed during the spill, wild populations have been augmented through captive propagation and release programs (through Virginia Tech and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries).  Federally listed threatened yellowfin madtom (Noturus flavipinnis) populations have been augmented through a captive propagation and release program.  Education programs have been funded in the Powell River Watershed to encourage local appreciation of the unique aquatic system of the Powell and Clinch Rivers, the most biologically diverse rivers in the nation.  Restoration activities began in 2002 and the mussel and fish propagation efforts are expected to be completed by 2012.

Links to Documents:

Preassessment Screens and Assessment Plans

The Preassessment Screen is the first document the Trustees will prepare. The purpose of this document is to provide a review of available information about the hazardous release(s) from a Site and the potential impacts of these releases on natural resources. The Preassessment Screen documents that there is a reasonable likelihood of making a successful claim and that further investigation and assessment efforts are warranted.

The Assessment Plan confirms exposure of trust resources to a hazardous substance and describes the planned assessment work at a site. Assessment Plans are reviewed by the public before being finalized.

Damage Assessment Plan for the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River (PDF - 1MB)

more coming soon!

Restoration Plans

Before allocating recovered natural resource damages on restoration projects, a Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment must be completed. This document describes potential restoration projects and the preferred alternative. Restoration plans are reviewed by the public before being finalized.

Bow Mariner Oil Spill, February 2010 (PDF - 1MB)

C&R Battery Superfund Site, January 2009 (PDF - 12MB)

Certus Chemical Spill, July 2004 (PDF - 2.6MB)

Lone Mountain Processing, Inc Coal Slurry Spill, June 2003 (PDF - 5.5MB)

Fact Sheets

Bow Mariner Oil Spill NRDAR (PDF - 4.3MB)

C&R Battery Superfund Site NRDAR (PDF - 5MB)

Certus Chemical Spill NRDAR (PDF - 1MB)

Lone Mountain Processing, Inc NRDAR (PDF - 1MB)

Other Links:

General NRDAR Program Links:

Department of the Interior Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Contaminants Restoration Program

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service NRDAR Fact Sheet (PDF - 1.6MB)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Damage Assessment, Remediation and Restoration Program (DARRP)

Other Region 5 (Northeast Region) Environmental Contaminants and NRDAR Program Links:

Northeast Region Environmental Contaminants Program

Chesapeake Bay Office NRDAR

New York Field Office NRDAR Program

Hudson River NRDA (New York Field Office)

Palmerton Zinc NRDAR (Pennsylvania Field Office)

New England Field Office NRDAR Program

North Cape Oil Spill NRDAR (New England Field Office)

More coming soon!

FWS Contaminants Home PageFWS Contaminants Northeast Region


Spill Preparedness and Response
(Link Under Development)

Biological Technical Assistance Group (BTAG)

Special Studies

Water Quality
(Link Under Development)




Last updated: December 6, 2012
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.