Assessment Planning and Implementation

During this step, the trustees decide on the assessment procedures to be used. The CERCLA NRDAR regulations include both a simplified method, called Type A assessments, and protocols for conducting assessments in individual cases, called Type B assessments. The OPA NRDAR regulations do not identify specific assessment procedures for trustees to use; instead, procedures must meet broad criteria contained in the regulations (15 CFR § 990.27(a)).

An Assessment Plan is written that summarizes the PAS (location, resources, potentially responsible parties, etc.) and identifies method(s), sample location, numbers, QA/QC, etc. to confirm pathway, and confirm and quantify exposure and injury (and data sharing, if appropriate). In addition, the trustees evaluate the costs of assessment; they must be reasonable. CERCLA requires that Assessment Plans be reviewed by the public prior to finalization.

Assessment Phase

Once the Assessment Plan is complete, there are 3 main activities that occur within the assessment phase:

a.            Injury Determination

b.            Injury Quantification

c.             Damage Determination

Injury Determination - Assess injuries to trust resources and services by first determining whether injury has occurred as a result of the discharge or release and then quantifying the injury.

Examples of injury include:

a.            Surface water and groundwater

  1.             Contaminant concentrations that exceed regulatory limits
  2.             Conditions sufficient to adversely affect biological resources and human/cultural uses

b.            Soils (“geologic resources”)

  1.             Chemical concentrations toxic to microorganisms, invertebrates, plants, wildlife
  2.             Reduced water-holding capacity, nutrient cycling

c.             Vegetation

  1.             Reduced cover, diversity,
  2.             Impaired health, vigor, reproductive, capacity, stability

d.            Habitats

  1.             Alterations in habitat structure, resistance,
  2.             Reduced resilience, stability

e.            Biota

  1.             Death, Reproductive dysfunction, Immune modulation
  2.             Biochemical changes, Behavioral changes
  3.             Cancer/neoplasia, Disease

f.             Human Use

  1.             Cultural / ceremonial use impaired
  2.             Recreational use impaired
  3.             Subsistence use impaired
  4.             Commercial use impaired

Injury Quantification – Quantification of the injury (including lost resources services) requires an evaluation of the severity, extent, and duration of the injury. Note: Determine injury/reduction in services caused by the release or from the response actions only.

Damage Determination - The damages include the cost of assessment, the cost to restore resources and/or services to baseline, and may include compensation for resource losses from time of injury to full restoration.

Post Assessment/Restoration