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Environmental Restoration

Every year oil and hazardous substances are discharged into our waterways, contaminating valuable wetlands and shellfish beds, closing fisheries and beaches, and increasing navigational dredging costs. Ship groundings destroy countless acres of seagrass beds and coral reefs annually. These activities damage important habitat for plants and animals and degrade the quality of life for people who live near, work, and recreate in impacted areas. The Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) is responsible for evaluating and restoring coastal and estuarine habitats damaged by hazardous waste releases, oil spills, and vessel groundings. Scientists have specific expertise in aquatic risk assessment techniques, contaminated sediment issues, and data interpretation. To fully accomplish this mission, OR&R 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. Explore NOAA's restoration efforts for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill at

To measure impacts on the marine environment, NOAA scientists employ a number of tools, the majority of which have been developed within NOAA. Take a look at the following selection of critical assessment tools which OR&R uses in the natural resource damage assessment process to restore public resources.

Activities in the Arctic

OR&R is building on decades of experience in Alaska to ensure the safety of Alaskan communities, ecosystems, and local economies while supporting a rising demand for maritime access and offshore development in the Arctic. Take a closer look at our diverse efforts in this part of the world.

Hazardous Waste Site Assessment and Restoration

Industrial activities have injured America’s river and coastal marine resources through hazardous releases, find out how NOAA works to protect and restore these valuable habitats.

Oil Spill Assessment and Restoration

Oil spills—ranging from just a few gallons to millions of barrels—occur in the U.S. all too often. In fact, NOAA responds to up to 150 oil spills nationwide each year. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a recent example of the extensive environmental and economic impact an oil spill can cause. It also demonstrates how important a healthy environment is for a sound economy.

From Response to Restoration

After a hazardous material is released, NOAA carries out several critical processes that benefit communities and restore injured habitat.

Natural Resource Damage Assessment

Learn how scientists work together to identify injuries to natural resources resulting from oil spills and other hazardous releases.