Defining Resource Injuries

Photo shows biologist taking a blood sample from a juvenile bald eagle.

Biologists take a blood sample for contaminant analysis from a juvenile bald eagle on Santa Cruz Island.

The first step in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process is to perform an injury assessment to determine which natural resources were harmed by the DDTs and PCBs that were released into the marine environment.

For the Montrose case, the U.S. government and the State of California filed a lawsuit under the federal Superfund law alleging that a number of defendants were responsible for releasing DDTs, PCBs into the marine environment. The lawsuit was filed in 1990 and litigation lasted until 2001. Throughout the lawsuit scientists collected data to prove injuries to natural resources exposed to DDTs and PCBs, including fish and wildlife that live in and around coastal waters of southern California. Scientists were able to prove injuries to four resource types including fishing and fish habitat, Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and seabirds.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducted surveys in 1992 and 1993 discovering that more than 100 metric tons (110 U.S. tons) of DDTs and 10 metric tons (11 U.S. tons) of PCBs remained in the sediments at the ocean bottom of the Palos Verdes Shelf. Follow-up surveys showed that elevated concentrations of DDTs and PCBs in bottom sediments extended from the Palos Verdes Shelf into Santa Monica Bay. Numerous independent studies have shown since then that DDTs and PCBs still contaminate marine life and birds in southern California and continue to harm these natural resources and the benefits they provide.

After the lawsuit was settled on March 15, 2001, the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program (MSRP) was formed to plan and conduct restoration of injured resources shortly after the end of the lawsuit.