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Natural Resource Damage Assessment and the Incident Command System Frank Csulak NOAA Emergency Response Division September 16, 2009 RRTIII Meeting Gettysburg, PA. Why is this a hot topic?. Mandated Damage Assessment Responsible Party Federal agencies State agencies Tribes.

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Natural Resource Damage Assessment and theIncident Command SystemFrank CsulakNOAA Emergency Response DivisionSeptember 16, 2009RRTIII MeetingGettysburg, PA

why is this a hot topic
Why is this a hot topic?
  • Mandated Damage Assessment
  • Responsible Party
  • Federal agencies
  • State agencies
  • Tribes
  • Mandated Response
  • Responsible Party
  • Federal agencies
  • State agencies



  • Share data and information?
  • Coordinate logistics and operations?
  • Gain efficiency through shared resources?
  • Mutual support in media and Congressional interactions?
  • Overall reduce environmental and economic losses through response and restoration?
views from trustees on how it s working
Views from Trustees on How It’s Working
  • Notification generally works OK
  • Not clear to trustees or Command how trustees should approach the response organization
  • Sometimes trustees encounter resistance to coordination – or just lack of interest
  • Confusion exists about the relationship between NRDA and response (e.g., Is NRDA part of the response? Who is making NRDA decisions? What are Command’s responsibilities to NRDA?)
topics for today
Topics for Today
  • Who are the natural resource trustees?
  • What are the trustees thinking?
  • Provisions for coordination in the IMH
  • How can we make it work better?
who are the natural resource trustees
Who are the natural resource trustees?
  • Federal agencies
    • DOI and DOC for natural resources subject to agency management or control
    • USDA, DOE, DOD, DOC, and DOI for natural resources on lands that are owned or managed by the agency
  • State agencies designated by the state governor
  • Tribes
what are the trustees thinking
What are the trustees thinking?
  • NRDA(R) Mandate:
    • “…restore, rehabilitate, replace, or acquire the equivalent of injured natural resources and services.”
    • Applies to both oil and chemical releases
what are the trustees thinking1
What are the trustees thinking?
  • Basic NRDA principles
    • It’s about restoring natural resources
    • It’s not about taking punitive action
    • All recovered damages must be used to restore natural resources or reimburse assessment costs
    • It can best be done without litigation
what are the trustees thinking2



Benefits of

Active Restoration

Interim Lost

Resource Services


Service Level








Full Recovery

with Active Restoration




What are the trustees thinking?
provisions for coordination in incident management handbook
Provisions for Coordination in Incident Management Handbook




Command Staff

Negotiating with RP

- Information Officer

Collecting Data

- Safety Officer

Media Relations

- Liaison Officer


Operations Section

Planning Section

Logistics Section

Finance/Admin Section

discussion items for lo and nrda rep
Discussion Items for LO and NRDA Rep
  • Review guidelines on IMH page 19-11
  • Priority Items to Clarify
    • Trustee compliance with Safety Plan
    • Timely information on NRDA activities for UC
    • Timely flow of information on response to Trustee representatives
    • Attendance/participation in scheduled ICS planning meetings
    • Location of NRDA offices
priority items to clarify cont
Priority Items to Clarify (cont.)
    • Sharing information and data
    • Coordinating trustee ops in area of response operations
    • Using response logistical capacity for NRDA (under what circumstances might this be possible, and how would that be determined?)
  • Embedding NRDA staff in ICS to facilitate coordination
  • Coordination of media and Congressional messages; joint media events, releases, etc.
linkages between response and nrda
Linkages Between Response and NRDA

NRDA activities should not be conducted without contact and updates from response team.

NRDA team should be diligent in communicating with response team that can provide how, when, and where response actions are implemented. How, when, and where response actions are implemented may affect (a) injury to natural resources, (b) the natural recovery process, and /or (c) restoration activities.

linkages between response and nrda1
Linkages Between Response and NRDA

NRDA team maybe able to advise response team on priorities and even procedures to minimize natural resource injuries or effects on restoration.

Successful response activities will minimize restoration costs by reducing natural resource injuries and foregone services.

Effective response actions can also lower damage assessment costs by reducing the number and/or type of injuries and service losses from a release.

  • The Lead Administrative NRDA Trustee (LAT) should identify a person to serve as the coordinator between response and NRDA teams. The LAT should have the most complete overview of the NRDA team’s activities. If, in a major release, the NRDA Manager may need to delegate the day-to-day activities to another team member.
  • The NRDA LAT should be responsible for monitoring, evaluating, preparing and/or coordinating information that may directly or indirectly influence information exchange with the response team.
    • Monitor public concerns and perceptions about sensitivity of and injury to natural resources;
    • Arrange for providing information to public, RP and response team; and
    • Provide response team with technical information as needed or requested.
action items
Action Items
  • Initial Briefing – Upon arrival at Command Post obtain a briefing from OSC or NOAA SSC to receive description of release, containment, and clean-up activities. Focus of type and size of release, degree and distribution of released substance, past and on-going response actions, names of other Federal and state agencies involved, any natural resource issues identified, and any other issues.
  • Obtain Maps, Charts, Photos – Need to include information on location of resources, extent of contamination, and access points. Coordinate with NOAA SSC.
action items1
Action Items
  • Reconnaissance of Affected Area – Appropriate NRDA Team members need to get overview of geography, natural resources, distribution of contamination, logistical issues, access areas and other factors that may affect the NRDA sampling activities. This action is a high priority, especially during the first several days following an incident. NOAA SSC to either provide or coordinate.
  • Establish an NRDA Command Post near the OSC’s Command Post, if feasible. Make sure that OSC knows that an NRDA Team has been established and location of NRDA Command Post.
action items2
Action Items
  • NRDA Leader needs to assign one person the task of collecting and sharing information with OSC and/or NOAA SSC.
  • Field Sampling – This is often the most significant task that the NRDA Team will manage or implement during the first few days following a spill. NRDA Manager needs to brief OSC and/or SSC that Trustees will be implementing field sampling activities, collecting and analyzing chemical, sediment, and biological samples. Responsibility of NRDA Manager to coordinate with OSC and/or NOAA SSC for use of various platforms (boats, helicopters) to conduct NRDA activities.
action items3
Action Items
  • Collecting Background and Baseline Data - NRDA Manager needs to brief OSC and/or SSC that Trustees will be initiating these efforts.
  • Documenting Injured or Dead Wildlife as NRDA Evidence – NRDA Trustees need to coordinate quickly and thoroughly with OSC on the assessment, collection, and chain-of-custody of samples. Wildlife recovery and rehabilitation is a response activity.
  • NRDA Manager needs to make arrangements to obtain situation reports, be invited to briefings and public forums to keep informed and to inform others about the NRDA response.