Environmental Contaminants Program
Contaminants Prevention - Contaminants specialists review environmental documents, legislation, regulations, and permits and licenses with pollution potential to ensure that harmful effects on fish, wildlife, and plants are avoided or minimized. Some examples include:
Contaminants Identification and Assessment - Service environmental contaminant specialists conduct field studies to determine sources of pollution, to investigate pollution effects on fish and wildlife and their habitat, and to investigate fish and wildlife die-offs. Sites typically assessed include those impacted by pesticides, industrial wastes, oil and hazardous waste spills, and drain water from agricultural irrigation and mining, as well as Superfund sites and other sites contaminated at some time in the past. Contaminants specialists have also developed tools such as the Contaminants Assessment Process (CAP), which was developed in cooperation with the US Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division's Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends (BEST) Program, to assist in evaluating contaminant threats to national wildlife refuges, as well as other Service lands. In addition, field specialists conduct contaminant surveys prior to the Service buying new lands.
Contaminant Cleanup and Resource Restoration. Data collected in contaminant assessments is often used to secure compensation for resources lost or degraded by hazardous waste releases or spills. These efforts are part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program (Restoration Program). The Service also takes part, through contaminants identification, assessment, planning and restoration, in the Department of Interior's National Irrigation Water Quality Program (NIWQP). Contaminant specialist are often called in by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Coast Guard, or various other Federal or State agencies responsible for cleaning up a contaminated area, to ensure that fish and wildlife and their habitat are adequately protected during, and upon completion of, the cleanup. Contaminants specialists also work closely with National Wildlife Refuge managers to design and implement actions to cleanup oil and hazardous material on refuge lands.