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OPA Guidance
About DARRP

Background

The Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 was passed in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The statute addresses oil pollution and establishes liability for the discharge and substantial threat of a discharge of oil to navigable U.S. waters and shorelines. A major goal of OPA is to restore natural resources that are injured and services that are lost as a result of oil spills. Responsibility for acting on behalf of the public lies with designated Federal, state, tribal, and foreign natural resource trustees. OPA directs trustees to (1) return injured natural resources and services to the condition they would have been in if the incident had not occurred, and (2) recover compensation for interim losses of such natural resources and services through the restoration, rehabilitation, replacement, or acquisition of equivalent natural resources or services.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a final rule to guide trustees in assessing damages to natural resources from a discharge of oil. The rule provides a blueprint that enables natural resource trustees to focus on significant environmental injuries, to plan and implement efficient and effective restoration of the injured natural resources and services, and to encourage public and responsible party involvement in the restoration process.

Under the rule, the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) process is divided into three phases:

  • Preassessment. The trustees evaluate injury and determine whether they have the authority to pursue restoration and if it is appropriate to do so.
  • Restoration planning. The trustees evaluate and quantify potential injuries and use that information to determine the appropriate type and scale of restoration actions.
  • Restoration implementation. The trustees and responsible parties implement restoration, including monitoring and corrective actions.

This process is designed to rapidly restore injured natural resources and services to the condition that would have existed had the spill not occurred, and to compensate the public for the losses experienced from the date of the spill until the affected natural resources and services have recovered.

In support of the rule, NOAA also developed guidance documents that are available through the National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, Virginia 22161; phone 703.487.4650. These guidance documents include "Preassessment Phase," "Injury Assessment," "Specifications for Use of NRDAM/CME Version 2.4 to Generate Compensation Formulas," "Primary Restoration," and "Restoration Planning." Although these documents were prepared primarily to provide guidance to natural resource trustees using the OPA rule, others with an interest in the restoration of natural resources and services may find them useful.

The following five guidance documents are also available on CD-ROM (S/N 003-017-00548-8) from the superintendent of documents by calling 202.512.1800. The cost is $20 domestic and $25 foreign.

Preassesment Phase: Guidance Document for Natural Resource Damage Assessment Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program, NOAA, August 1996.

Complete Document (PDF) Also available in sections:

Injury Assessment: Guidance Document for Natural Resource Damage Assessment Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program, NOAA, August 1996.

Complete Document (PDF) Also available in sections:

Specifications for Use of NRDAM/CME Version 2.4 to Generate Compensation Formulas: Guidance Document for Natural Resource Damage Assessment Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program, NOAA, August 1996.

Complete Document (PDF) Also available in sections:

Primary Restoration: Guidance Document for Natural Resource Damage Assessment Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Damage Assessment and Restoration Program, NOAA, August 1996.

Complete Document (PDF) Also available in sections:

Restoration Planning: Guidance Document for Natural Resource Damage Assessment Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Damage Assessment and Restoration Program, NOAA, August 1996.

Complete Document (PDF) Also available in sections:

 



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