Environmental Contaminants (EC) biologists and toxicologists work with others to: 1) prevent and investigate contaminant-related effects to natural resources and 2) implement restoration actions that directly improve the watersheds and landscapes injured from the release of contaminants. They uncover potential contaminant problems by evaluating proposed or existing projects and working with other agencies, the public, and industry groups to develop workable solutions to resolving ongoing effects. The program’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration program resolves contentious environmental problems from spills and hazardous waste sites and restores habitat and injured species of fish and wildlife.
The overall goal of the professionals in the EC program is to ensure contaminants do not become a major factor causing any Fish and Wildlife Service trust resource (e.g., threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, fishery resources, some marine mammals, and refuge lands) to decline. We accomplish this goal by investigating contamination events and resolving potential contaminant problems before they become significant, and by working with industry and agency personnel and the public to restore injured natural resources when prevention measures fail.
Our goal is to prevent contaminants from entering the environment because it’s more efficient and effective to prevent impacts rather than having to cleanup pollutants and restore natural resources. Program biologists and toxicologists work with our federal, state, and tribal partners to prevent releases from occurring and to help set standards for lawful discharges that are protective of fish and wildlife resources. They review and recommend ways to minimize effects of the use pesticides on Service and other lands, conduct spill prevention and response actions, participate in reviewing multiple actions under the Clean Water Act, Superfund, etc., and assist the Endangered Species program on Section 7 consultations involving pesticides or contaminant releases.
EC Program scientists investigate the ecological impacts of contaminants released into the environment through municipal and industrial discharges, from oil or hazardous substances spills, mining, urban and agricultural runoff, and from other sources.
When prevention efforts fail and contaminant releases impact fish, wildlife, and their habitat, the Program works with federal, state, and tribal partners and often industry, to restore injured natural resources. The program’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration activities expand this effort by working cooperatively with potentially responsible parties and the public on negotiated settlements. This leads to successful efforts to restore fish and wildlife and their habitats by using funds or services provided by settlement agreements to replace the natural resources injured.