The Office of Response and Restoration's Assessment and Restoration Division (ARD) is responsible for evaluating and restoring coastal and estuarine habitats damaged by hazardous waste releases, oil spills, and vessel groundings.
OR&R’s Assessment and Restoration Division worked with the Restoration Center and the Office of the General Counsel Natural Resources Section and multiple trustee agencies to produce the Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan/Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PDARP/PEIS) for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The 1,400+ page report was the basis for the record settlement of $8.8 billion for the restoration of injured natural resources between the natural resource trustees and BP.
Release of National Data Management Tool
OR&R released the newly developed Data Integration, Visualization, Exploration and Reporting tool (DIVER) Portal, which builds upon the environmental data warehouse and query tools that were initially developed to support the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) and Restoration for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. DIVER served as the official data management and repository for the NRDA case, which was settled in a consent decree with the Department of Justice.
The new DIVER Portal provides a secure collaboration and data management space for integrating and managing restoration monitoring data collected as part of the NRDA settlement, and serves as a Gulf of Mexico-wide data management and data distribution tool. The new DIVER Portal also expands coverage to the entire coastal and Great Lakes environment and data types now include environmental data such as samples, observations, photos and oceanographic data in addition to activity and project information. The DIVER Portal can be used for data collection, data management and data querying for environmental disasters and for planning and preparedness exercises and drills.
Settlements in Michigan, Washington, and Maine
Two settlements with the company responsible for the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill, the State of Michigan and NOAA's Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration program secured over $62 million to restore the environment impacted by the spill. NOAA’s scientific support helped the state secure $58 million for restoration. NOAA and federal and tribal partners secured an additional $4 million. The spill resulted in about 843,000 gallons of a heavy form of crude oil known as “tar sands oil,” into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. Projects to restore the harm include restoring and protecting hundreds of acres of wetlands and upland habitat, replacing culverts to enhance river flow, and increasing recreational opportunities for the public along the Kalamazoo River.
In Washington State a settlement worth about $5 million continued restoration of Commencement Bay, which was impacted by the pollution from industrial activity. NOAA and partners have generated over $70 million dollars over the last 20 years to hold polluters accountable and reestablish the bay.
In Maine, a $880,000 settlement was reached for an oil spill at the Gulf-Chevron marine oil terminal. The settlement will support restoration projects for natural resources, including aquatic habitats and areas of recreational use.