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OR&R Hosts Brazilians at International NRDA Technical Exchange

FEBRUARY 9, 2018 — On February 5-7, OR&R’s Assessment and Restoration Division hosted a Brazilian delegation of scientists to discuss how NOAA organizes and implements natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) and restoration.  

Class of students watch presentation.
Participants in the NRDA technical exchange. Image credit: NOAA.

On November 5, 2015, the Fundao Dam burst, sending a wall of mud and 40-60 million cubic meters of iron mining tailings down the valley of the Doce River, near the town of Bento Rodrigues, Brazil. Seventeen people were killed and 2,100 hectares of valley land was covered in tailing mud. Though the disaster occurred two years ago, tailing-laden sediment continues to impact the river ecosystem and the fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river, over 600 km downstream from the site of the dam collapse.

With knowledge of NOAA’s long history of damage assessments, the Brazilian scientists came to NOAA to discuss a wide variety of topics related to their own damage assessment process.  The technical exchange included staff from NOAA’s OR&R and Restoration Center, and Department of Interior’s Office of Policy Analysis. Topics included an overview of the NRDA process, fish and shoreline sampling design, habitat and resource equivalency analysis, economic valuation, and restoration design and implementation. The technical exchange gave NOAA staff an opportunity to learn about the unique set of NRDA-related issues presented by a dam collapse. OR&R looks forward to continued discussions with their counterparts in Brazil.

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