anadromous species—Fish that spend most of their life in
saltwater but migrate into freshwater to spawn.
CERCLA/Superfund—The acronym for the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended by
the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) in 1986, often referred
to as Superfund. The federal statute establishes liability for site cleanup,
prescribes a procedure for identifying and ranking contaminated sites, provides
a funding mechanism for site cleanups, reduces uncontrolled releases of
hazardous substances, establishes cleanup procedures that provide protection
for humans and the environment, and restores injured natural resources through
provisions administered by the natural resource trustees.
cooperative assessments—Assessments that are done
cooperatively after an oil spill or hazardous substance release by trustees and
the party responsible for the incident. This cooperation generally results in
faster, more efficient restoration of injured natural resources.
compensatory restoration projects—Projects to compensate for
interim losses of natural resources and the services they provide—from the time
of injury until recovery is completed.
CWA/Clean Water Act—The law (also called the Federal Water
Pollution Control Act) that established the programmatic and regulatory
framework for restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological
integrity of the nation’s waters. The CWA generally prohibits discharges of oil
and hazardous substances into coastal or ocean waters. The 1973 amendments
mandated the development of a National Contingency Plan (NCP) that would
"provide for efficient, coordinated and effective action to minimize damage
from oil and hazardous substances discharges, including containment, dispersal,
and removal of oil and hazardous substances." The NCP governs the actions of
all federal agencies involved in responding to oil and hazardous material
releases. It also defines roles for agencies that are natural resource
DARRP/Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program—A
multioffice program within NOAA involving the National Ocean Service, the
National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Office of General Counsel. DARRP
scientists, economists, and attorneys conduct natural resource damage
assessments of and restoration projects for coastal and marine resources
injured by oil and hazardous material releases.
DDT/dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane—A chemical compound
commonly used as a pesticide until it was banned in the U.S. in 1972. However,
DDT is still used in other parts of the world. DDT remains in the environment
for many decades, accumulates in living creatures, and poses health hazards to
humans, wildlife, and fish.
EPA/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—A federal agency with
the mission to protect human health and safeguard the environment.
FWS/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—An agency of the U.S.
Department of the Interior with the mission to conserve, protect, and enhance
fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of all
habitat—Place where an animal or plant normally lives, often
characterized by a dominant plant form or physical characteristic.
HEA/habitat equivalency analysis—A method developed by NOAA
for estimating how much restoration is needed to replace the loss of natural
resources from the time they are injured until they are returned to the
condition they would have been in had the release not occurred.
hazardous substance—Substances identified as capable of posing
"imminent and substantial danger to public health and welfare or the
environment." CERCLA has identified more than 800 hazardous substances. The
term does not include petroleum or natural gas.
injury—An observable or measurable adverse change—including
destruction, loss, and loss of use—in a natural resource or impairment of a
natural resource service.
injury assessment and restoration planning—The second phase of
a natural resource damage assessment. Trustees identify the injuries to natural
resources and their services and use that information to determine the need for
and amount of restoration.
marsh—An emergent wetland seasonally flooded or usually wet
and often dominated by one or a few plant species. Marshes can be either
freshwater or saltwater.
National Marine Sanctuaries—Marine areas identified for their
biodiversity, ecological integrity, and cultural legacy that are protected by
National Marine Sanctuary Act—Legislation designed to
identify, designate, and manage areas of the marine environment that are of
special national significance due to their conservation, recreational,
ecological, historical, scientific, educational, or aesthetic qualities.
natural resource services—Ecological and human services
provided by natural resources that may be injured after an oil spill or
hazardous substance release. Ecological services include flood control,
sediment stabilization, and habitat. Human services include fishing,
beachgoing, and wildlife viewing.
natural resource trustees (trustees)—Government officials who
act on behalf of the public when there is injury to, destruction of, loss of,
or threat to natural resources as a result of a release of a hazardous
substance or a discharge of oil. Trustees include the U.S. Departments of
Commerce, Interior, Defense, Agriculture, and Energy; state agencies; and
Native American tribes. NOAA is the lead federal trustee for coastal and marine
nutrient cycling—The continuous cycling through an ecosystem
of minerals, compounds, or elements that promote biological growth or
NOAA/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—A U.S.
Department of Commerce agency whose mission is to describe and predict changes
in the earth's environment and to conserve and manage the nation's coastal and
marine resources to ensure sustainable economic opportunities.
NRDA/natural resource damage assessment—Investigation
performed by trustees to identify and plan the restoration of natural resources
injured by oil spills and hazardous substance releases. The goal of NRDA is to
restore natural resources.
OPA/Oil Pollution Act of 1990—Legislation designed to prevent
oil spills, ensure cleanup if they happen, and restore natural resources
injured by these spills.
PCBs/polychlorinated biphenyls—A class of chemicals previously
used in manufacturing that remain in the environment for many decades,
accumulate in living creatures, and pose health hazards to humans, wildlife,
preliminary assessment—The first step in a natural resource
damage assessment, in which trustees determine whether injury to public trust
resources has occurred or is likely to occur.
primary restoration projects—Projects to restore natural
resources injured by oil or hazardous substance releases to the condition that
would have existed if the incident had not occurred.
RAP/Rapid Assessment Program—A capability developed and
supported by the Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program to
collect perishable data and readily available information to determine the need
for a natural resource damage assessment.
responsible parties—The parties (e.g., individuals, companies,
or government agencies) responsible for an oil spill or hazardous substance
restoration—The goal of a natural resource damage assessment,
which involves rehabilitating, replacing, or acquiring the equivalent of
injured natural resources and the services they provided. Restoration includes
both primary and compensatory restoration projects.
sediment—Loose particles of sand, clay, silt, and other
substances that settle at the bottom of a water body. They come from eroding
soil and from decomposing plants and animals. Wind, water, and ice often carry
these particles great distances. Many sediments in rivers, lakes, and oceans
are contaminated by pollutants, such as DDT and PCBs.
settlement—An agreement between natural resource trustees and
responsible parties that specifies the terms under which liability is resolved.
trustees—See natural resource trustees.
U.S. Coast Guard—A federal agency that
responds to oil and hazardous substance releases and cleans up or contains the
release in an effort to protect public health and the environment.
wetlands—Transitional areas between uplands and water that are
subject to periodic flooding or prolonged saturation and contain specific plant
communities and soil types. Wetlands can be classified as either tidal—within
the reach of the tides—or nontidal. Both serve important ecological functions.