Natural Resource Damages
A Natural Resource Damage and Revitalization (NRDAR) process complements a hazardous waste site cleanup:
- The cleanup stops a hazardous substance release from continuing to cause harm or risk to human health and the environment.
- The NRDAR action compensates the public for the injury to the environment and the loss of use of the environment caused by the release of a hazardous substance before during and after the cleanup is completed.
Federal and state agencies and Indian Nations administer NRDAR actions. They act as natural resource trustees on behalf of the public.
With regard to the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Onondaga Nation, and NYSDEC (the trustees) are preparing to assess damages to natural resources that have resulted from releases of hazardous substances.
History of Steps Taken
In September 1994, NYSDEC took the first step in the natural resources damages assessment process and issued a preassessment screen determination for the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site on behalf of New York State. In September 2006, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service also formalized a preassessment screen determination for the Site on behalf of the Federal government. Both preassessment screens were based on existing data concerning the effects to natural resources of mercury and other contaminants. The preassessment screens document the trustees' determination that conditions at the Site warrant a natural resource damage assessment.
In November, 1996, NYSDEC initialized the second phase of the assessment process when it released the Onondaga Lake Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan. The purpose of the assessment plan is to ensure that the trustees perform the assessment in a planned and systematic manner to evaluate and quantify injuries to the Onondaga Lake Site’s natural resources. The planning process will also allow the trustees to determine whether the assessment can be conducted at a reasonable cost.
The Trustees are now at the next steps:
- Continued development of the Onondaga Lake Assessment Plan to assess injury and determine damages to natural resources
- Planning and implementing revitalization in consultation with the public.