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.

Determining damages

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

Pre-assessment screenings Compensation schedule Other RDA methods

Funding for 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.

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.

New CPF projects in 2018:

McMurphy Creek

McMurphy Creek fish passage restoration project

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife is getting $10,000 to enhance the health of Lewis County’s Olequa Creek, which suffered a significant fish kill and loss of habitat due to the Winlock warehouse fire and oil spill in 2015. The project will remove two privately owned fish barriers on McMurphy Creek, a tributary to Olequa Creek, opening up 1.6 miles of fish habitat.

Mud Bay, Sucia Island Puget Sound Tarboo Creek

Directly funded 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.