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.
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
b. Soils (“geologic resources”)
f. Human Use
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.