The Natural Resource Damage Assessment Sampling Process

SAN FRANCISCO – Immediately following the release of the oil spilled from the Cosco Busan, teams of technical experts representing the Natural Resource Trustees arrived on scene to begin the time-critical first stage of injury assessment and initial data collection for the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA).

This effort involves representatives from several state and federal agencies and is being conducted cooperatively with representatives from the Responsible Party. The ongoing NRDA efforts have been organized to focus field efforts on a number of critical resource categories, including fish, birds, marine mammals, beaches, wetlands, eelgrasses, rocky intertidal, water column, recreational use and cultural/historical.

These multiple specialized resource teams have been deployed to the field daily since the day of the spill, collecting the time critical data necessary to document information about degree of oiling in each of these critical habitats, oil toxicity, observations of dead and oiled wildlife and other impacts. All of this information will ultimately be used to select and scale appropriate restoration projects in the NRDA.

Hundreds of environmental samples have been collected throughout the assessment area, including sediment, plant, fish, mollusk, water column and others. These samples are being prioritized and analyzed using high resolution chemistry for “fingerprinting”, which helps confirm source, composition and physiochemical properties. The current sampling area ranges from Half Moon Bay to Point Reyes, Point San Bruno and San Pablo Bay, and are being documented using a system of field-linked GPS data collection and GIS-based project mapping.

Concurrently, these teams, which are led by habitat and resource specific local and national experts, are developing longer term assessment plans intended to prioritize future short and long-term data collection needs. Ultimately this information will be used to support a NRDA claim, to implement restoration projects that will compensate the public for their resources lost due to short, and long-term effects of the oil.

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