Assessment and Restoration Division

As one of the three divisions within the Office of Response and Restoration, the 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. To fully accomplish this mission, ARD joined with NOAA's General Counsel for Natural Resources and Office of Habitat Conservation to create the Damage Assessment, Remediation and Restoration Program (DARRP). This successful NOAA partnership tackles the challenges of environmental damages to ensure marine natural resources are protected and restored.

The Assessment and Restoration Division comprises NOAA biologists, toxicologists, ecologists, policy analysts, information specialists, attorneys, geologists, environmental engineers, and economists. Together, they help assess ecological risk and environmental and economic injury from contamination and ship groundings. In particular, ARD has developed specific expertise in aquatic risk assessment techniques, contaminated sediment issues, and data interpretation.

OR&R environmental toxicologist
An OR&R environmental toxicologist discussing the 2010 Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill with then U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke. (NOAA)

Key Division Responsibilities

Environmental Protection during Cleanup

During cleanup of an oil spill or hazardous waste release, ARD experts provide guidance to agencies leading the cleanup, the U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to maximize the benefits of the cleanup while minimizing any adverse affects that may occur to natural resources during a cleanup. Numerous division scientists are placed in EPA regional offices to provide technical advice for coastal waste site remediation.

Natural Resource Damage Assessments

At particular waste sites or after an oil spill, ARD conducts a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). The NRDA process determines the extent of harm to natural resources and their uses and the appropriate type and amount of environmental restoration required to compensate the American public for those impacts.

Environmental Restoration

Through the NRDA process, ARD and the DARRP program work cooperatively with government agencies, Native American tribes, companies, and the public to carry out restoration projects at hazardous waste, oil spill, and vessel grounding sites. Since 1990, more than $550 million has been recovered from parties responsible for the damage. The funds are used to restore damaged estuarine and coastal resources, including wetlands, coral reefs, streams, and beaches. Environmental restoration benefits fish, birds, marine mammal habitat, and local and regional economies. Find out more about environmental assessment and restoration.