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Restoring resources after spills

Anyone responsible for spilling oil into state waters is liable for damages resulting from impacts to natural, cultural and historic, and publicly-owned resources. We have a process for determining damages and restoring resources in partnership with other federal, state and local agencies, and tribes.

Restoring resources through Natural Resource Damage Assessment

The process for determining damages for an oil spill is called a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). In Washington, the process is defined by rule, which lays out procedures to determine damages for impacts to natural, cultural and historic, and publicly-owned resources by:

  • Establishing the Resource Damage Assessment (RDA) Committee
  • Outlining a pre-assessment screening process
  • Creating the compensation schedule

Individual Resource Damage Assessments can be found on our interactive map of restoration projects.

For more information on the NRDA process in Washington, see our publication on Assessing Oil Spill Damages.

Resource Damage Assessment Committee

The Resource Damage Assessment (RDA) Committee meets the second Wednesday of each month to conduct pre-assessment screenings for oil spills into state waters. Meetings are open to the public.

The RDA Committee is made up of the following state agencies:

Other federal, state, and local agencies, and tribes may also be asked to join the RDA Committee on a spill-by-spill basis, if their resources have been impacted by an oil spill.

Determining damages

Pre-assessment screenings

Following an oil spill, the responsible party is issued a letter inviting them to participate in a pre-assessment screening process where the state Resource Damage Assessment (RDA) Committee reviews the facts of the spill and determines the appropriate method for assessing damages. Using the pre-assessment screening process, the RDA Committee determines whether to conduct detailed resource damage assessment studies, or if the compensation schedule should be used to assess damages for oil spills into state waters.

The compensation schedule is used if the RDA Committee determines that:

  • Restoration of injured resources is not technically feasible.
  • Damages are not quantifiable at a reasonable cost.
  • The responsible party has not proposed a restoration project that sufficiently provides adequate compensation.

Compensation schedule Other RDA methods

Funding resource restoration

The ultimate goal of NRDA and other resource damage assessment methods is to restore injured resources to their pre-spill condition. This can be achieved through direct funding of a restoration project by the responsible party. Or, restoration projects may be directly funded by the Coastal Protection Fund, which is made up of responsible party oil spill damage assessments.

Directly funded restoration projects

At any time during the NRDA process, the responsible party can fund restoration or enhancement projects or studies that adequately compensate the state for resource injuries. Priority is given to projects or studies that seek to restore impacted resources to pre-spill conditions.

Coastal Protection Fund

We deposit money collected from oil spill damage assessments into the Coastal Protection Fund (CPF). This money is used to pay for the restoration of natural, cultural and historic, and publicly owned resources impacted by oil spills.