Natural Resource Damage Assessment
Under state law (RCW 90.56.370),
anyone responsible for spilling oil into
state waters are liable for damages resulting from injuries
to public resources.
Following a spill, the responsible party (RP) is issued a
letter inviting them to participate in a Preassessment
Screening process where the state Resource Damage Assessment
(RDA) Committee reviews the facts of the spill and
determines the method used to assess damages.
For each spill, if the RDA Committee must use the compensation schedule if they determine that:
Ecology began using the compensation schedule found in WAC 173-183 in 1992. It helps to determine a monetary value (damages) for injuries to public resources caused by the oil spill. The compensation schedule allows Ecology to collect damages based on a dollar per gallon charge. For spills less than 1,000 gallons this is $1to $100 per gallon range. For spills of 1,000 gallons or more this range is $3 to $300 per gallon spilled.
For more information on the NRDA process in Washington see "Focus on Assessing Oil Spill Damages."
The RP may be able to reduce the damages by acting quickly to contain and recover the spilled oil from the water. For more information see "Credit for Oil Recovery From ECY 050-49".
For more information on how oil impacts the environment see "Focus on Environmental Harm from Oil Spills - Impact of Oil on the Environment."
A spiller may be liable for more costs than just Natural Resource Damages. For more information see "Am I Liable for Other State Costs?"
Federal Natural Resource Damage Assessment
Large oil spills that cause great injuries to resources are also evaluated by federal trustee agencies and affected tribes. A trustee council is generally created and Ecology represents the state in that council. Other state agencies can be involved as well. For oil spills, federal agencies conduct NRDA under the authority of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90). These agencies are usually the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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