Introduction and Overview

Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Primer for Federal, State and Tribal trustees, Federal On-Scene Coordinators, and Others Involved In Preparedness and Emergency Response Activities under the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan, CERCLA, OPA and Other Authorities

What is this primer about?

This primer provides a general overview of Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) concepts and terms. Citations and references are provided to statutes and other information on related topics.

Process Overview

CERCLA directed the President, acting through the Department of the Interior (DOI), to prepare regulations for the assessment of natural resource injuries resulting from a release of a hazardous substance under 42 USC 9651(c), EO 12580 sec. 2(h). DOI’s NRDAR regulations for CERCLA can be found at 43 CFR Part 11.  OPA assigned rulemaking responsibility for oil spills to U.S. navigable waters to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA’s NRDAR Regulations for OPA can be found at 15 CFR Part 990.

There are some differences between the OPA and CERCLA regulations, but generally the assessment and restoration planning process follows the same steps. Because this primer is meant to provide a general overview of the process, it does not provide details regarding the differences between the OPA and CERCLA regulations. However, where appropriate, the differences between the two sets of regulations are identified in the text and the citation to the specific regulation is included.

For additional information on NRDAR laws, regulations, program guidance and executive orders, please go to our main Authorities page.

The goal of the NRDAR process is to:

  • Restore natural resources impacted by releases of oil or other hazardous substances, and
  • To replace natural resource services that were lost while the natural resources were impaired

The primer explains:

What will you know when you finish the primer?

The primer will help you understand what natural resources are and some of the important services they provide, why federal, state, and tribal trustees are involved in NRDAR, and what to generally expect from trustee and public involvement in the NRDAR process.


***The goal of the Primer on Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) is to provide a reader with a very general overview of the NRDAR process. The primer was written with input and involvement from a group of internal as well as external natural resource trustees. The Department of the Interior’s Office of Restoration and Damage Assessment would like to thank and acknowledge the team’s ideas, participation and contributions to the development of the primer.

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