What is ARD's role in waste site cleanup?
The Assessment and Restoration Division (ARD) works with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and with state environmental agencies to help protect and restore NOAA's trust resources. EPA and other regulatory agencies have long depended on our expertise in environmental assessment. ARD scientists accurately evaluate and portray the risk to aquatic organisms in order to protect these resources and people who eat seafood and use coastal areas. Specifically, the ARD scientists and a multidisciplinary team of technical experts help EPA and other lead cleanup agencies evaluate and reduce ecological risks by:
- Providing information to EPA about sensitive habitats,
fish, and other species that live, spawn, and feed in the affected area;
- Describing contaminants of concern and the ways contaminants could reach natural resources;
- Designing scientifically sound sampling strategies to describe the nature and extent of contamination and potential adverse effects;
- Predicting and measuring the effects of contaminants on natural resources;
- Developing site-specific contaminant cleanup levels that will protect NOAA resources and the environment;
- Recommending cost-effective approaches for assessment and cleanup;
- Weighing the effectiveness of different cleanup options;
- Designing remedial effectiveness monitoring plans to ensure the remedy protects the environment and natural resources; and
- Implementing linked databases and GIS mapping projects to decrease coastal contamination and develop restoration solutions on a watershed-wide basis.
When a remedy protects NOAA trust resources, there is generally no need to collect damages for injuries to natural resources. We work with NOAA's Office of General Counsel to grant the responsible party a covenant not to sue for injury to trust resources. At some sites, the remedy will not address all of NOAA's concerns. In such cases (usually where residual injury is limited), we can negotiate additional measures as part of the government settlement to ensure that natural resources will be protected and restored. Examples of additional measures include:
- Restoring a degraded wetland;
- Improving stream habitat for fish;
- Building a fish ladder; and
- Implementing a monitoring program to ensure that
natural resource recovery occurs.
If the responsible party agrees to the additional measures, NOAA grants a conditional covenant not to sue based on completion of the agreed-upon work. If the responsible party does not agree after negotiation, or if the injuries to natural resources are unusually great, we refer the site to the Damage Assessment and Restoration Program as a case for damage assessment and potential litigation.
The ARD program has:
- Resolved natural resource trustee concerns at more than 95% of the Superfund sites of concern to the agency, with very few sites requiring a damage claim; and
- Teamed with EPA's assessment and cleanup process to avoid duplication and save both the government and industry money and time.
Because ARD scientists are an integral part of solution to environmental contamination, we are not limited to working on sites where there is a viable responsible party. We work to protect NOAA trust resources at all types of hazardous waste sites, including Federal facilities, government-funded cleanup sites, and sites where the state is in charge of the cleanup.
For more information
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) The Assessment and Restoration Division (ARD) works with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and with state environmental agencies to help protect and restore NOAA's trust resources. [leaves OR&R site]
- ARD Waste Site Coordinator Direct comments or questions about NOAA's Coastal Hazardous Waste Site Reports to our Waste Site Coordinator.