Natural Resource Damage Assessment
The Law: 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.
How it's done:
The process for determining damages for an oil spill is
called a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). This
process in Washington is defined in the “Oil Spill
Natural Resource Damage Assessment”
rule (WAC 173-183). The rule lays out a simplified process,
called a Compensation Schedule, to calculate damages based
on the habitat and organisms potentially impacted by the spill, the type
of oil spilled, and the volume of oil spilled. The overall objective of this process is
to restore natural resources to a pre-spill condition.
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.
RDA Committee: Ecology is directed to Chair
the RDA Committee. Other permanent members of the state RDA
Committee include: the Department of Fish and Wildlife,
Department of Natural Resources, Department of Health,
Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and the
State Parks and Recreation Commission.
For each spill, if the RDA Committee must use the
compensation schedule if they determine that:
Restoration of injured resources is
not technically feasible.
Damages are not quantifiable at a
The RP proposes a restoration
project that is insufficient to provide adequate
Ecology began using the compensation schedule found in WAC 173-183 in 1992. It
provides a simplified method 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
the range is $1 to $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."
Recovery Credit: 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
on Environmental Harm from Oil Spills - Impact of Oil on the
A spiller may be liable for more costs than just Natural Resource Damages. For more information see "Am
I Liable for Other State Costs?"
List of All Oil Spill RDAs: The following links are
to lists of all Natural Resources Damage Assessments processed
by the state to date. One list is sorted by the date of the
spill and the other list is sorted by sub-region. To satisfy
WAC 173-183-900, the lists provide the outcome of the
preassessment screenings, the compensation schedule claims
imposed, revenues to the Coastal Protection Fund (CPF), and
the status of the claims. Here is a list of expenditures
from the CPF.
Resource Damage Assessments sorted by date
Resource Damage Assessments sorted by sub-region
A map showing locations of projects funded through natural resource damage assessments is also available.
Where RDA Money Goes:
Ecology deposits money collected from oil spill damage
assessments into the Coastal Protection Fund (CPF). Most of
the money is used to fund restoration of public natural
resources. More about the Coastal Protection Fund and
Other Washington state NRDAs
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.
Coastal Protection Fund & Restoration
Meetings take place on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.
Guidance: Credit for Oil Recovery and Recovered Oil Data Form
Focus On: Assessing Oil Spill Damages
Focus On: Environmental Harm from Oil Spills - Impact of Oil on the Environment
Focus On: Am I liable for Other State Costs?
Chapter 173-183 WAC