NATURAL RESOURCE DAMAGE ASSESSMENT
The Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) process was created under the authorization of the Clean Water Act (33 USC 1251 et seq.) of 1977; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (42 USC 9601 et seq.) of 1980 as amended; Oil Pollution Act (33 USC 2701 et seq.) of 1990; Organic Act; State and Tribal Laws.
Such provisions authorize natural resource trustees to recover compensatory damages for injury to, destruction of, or loss of natural resources resulting from a discharge of oil into navigable waters (OPA) or a release of a hazardous substance (CERCLA).
Regulations provide an administrative process for conducting assessments as well as technical methods for the actual identification of injuries and calculation of damages.
NRDAR (under AID TO TRIBAL GOVERNMENT)
NRDAR Progress Report; Calendar year 2014
As a Trustee of all Natural Resources impacting Peoria Tribal members, the Peoria Tribe Environmental Department is very active in all ongoing NRDAR (Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration) activities within the Tri-State Mining District Superfund Site (Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma) and the Tar Creek Superfund Site (Ottawa County, Oklahoma). The effects of past mining operations have caused injury to, and continue to impact natural resources within the Peoria Tribal jurisdiction. This impact includes injury to air, surface and ground water resources, stream biota, wildlife, migratory waterfowl and other avian resources, soil, and vegetative resources. These resources many times suffer harm from both subsistence and cultural stand-point because of the close affinity Native American people have with the earth and its produce.
Trusteeship and the very nature of many natural resources, stream flow, the transitory nature of wildlife, migrations of many avian species, etc., is reflected in the Federal Regulatory Legislation that regulate damage assessment and restoration. These CERCLA regulations allow for NRD claims to be made for injury to natural resources within Tribal Jurisdiction or resources impacting Tribal Jurisdiction, on or against Potentially Responsible Parties for their present or past mining activities. This includes mining activities within and outside that tribal jurisdiction, because certain natural resources are transitory, and because certain contaminants that cause injury are also transient. Therefore the Peoria Environmental Department continues to be actively involved in the Tri-State Mining District Superfund Site and the Spring River Watershed Coalition, via the Trustee Councils of Tri-State, and the Tar Creek Superfund Site, via the Tar Creek Trustee Council.
As a Natural Resource Trustee the Peoria Tribe, through the Tribal Environmental Department, has, for the year 2014, been active and continues to be involved in the preparation of, and participation in the following areas and ways involving the NRDA program:
- Developing a Grand Lake Restoration Compensation Development Plan (RCDP completed mid 2014 awaiting publishing at this time.)
- Incorporated developed Peoria Tribe Natural Resource Study of aquatic and plant resources used by tribal members for subsistence and recreational purposes into Grand Lake RCDP.
- Worked with DOI / DOJ to provide a “Letter of Invitation to Negotiate” including a “Degree of Liability” and a “NRDAR Claim Assessment Value” to five PRPs (Potentially Responsible Parties), for mining related injury to the Grand Lake Watershed.
- Participating in negotiations with PRP mining entities in Grand Lake NRDA claim (ongoing).
- Developing Peoria Tribe Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Document (ongoing development).
- Working to develop a natural resource damage assessment study on a particular resource not previously investigated by USFW, USGS, or other tribal trustees.
- Assisting in Natural Resource sampling activities and Assessment studies, such as; the Grand Lake Sediment sampling, Spring River Pore Water sampling, Stepps Ford Neosho Mucket Survey, (ongoing activities).
- Reviewing and commenting on all proposed natural resource studies, such as; the USGS Spring River Overbank Sediments Study; US Fish and Wildlife Service Crayfish Study; Six Treaty Tribe Overbank Study; Six Treaty Tribe Cultural Resource Index Aquatic Study; Six Treaty Tribe Plant Cultural Resource Index; Six Treaty Tribes’ Springs Study; Tri-State Transition Zone Study; Spring River Watershed Sediment Study (ongoing activities).
- Review, comment, and development of the Tar Creek Trustee Council Restoration Plan (ongoing development).
- Committee member on development of Ranking Criteria for Restoration Plan Proposed Projects (ongoing development).
- Investment of Asarco Bankruptcy Settlement Restoration funds; to be able to have available dollars “project ready”, and to secure the safest investment (Federal Treasury Bonds) to be able to extend “dollars to put on the Ground”, those restoration dollars.
- Attend and participate in USEPA Region 6 Remediation meetings and conference calls as possible.
- Provided letters of concern and comments on EPA remediation actions, i.e., EPA Chat Repository, EPA Hydro-geologic study, EPA Remediation OU4 Actions.
- Participated in Washington D.C. EPA Optimization Review Committee of EPA Region 6 ongoing remediation activities.
- Attend and participate in all Tar Creek Trustee Council meetings
- Attend and participate in all Trustee Councils of Tri-State meetings.
- Attend and participate in all Spring River Watershed meetings.
- Attend and participate in NATURE meetings as possible.
- Attend and participate in Grand Lake Watershed Council meetings
- Attend Tar Creek Conference functions.
- Attend and participated in the Department of the Interior, Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration National Workshop, April 28 through May 2, 2014.
- Working with secured Tribal Legal Representation, (apart from U.S. D.O.I. and U.S. D.O.J.), concerning ongoing case strategy, and currently developing future NRDAR actions. This legal support has been secured through federal funding (BIA Tribal Attorney Support, Washington, D.C. Work Group) per U.S. Federal Regulations, and is at no cost to the Peoria Tribe.
- Worked with DOI in securing two year extension on Grand Lake Tolling Agreement to further Tar Creek Trustee Council claim development.
- Participate in monthly Tribal / DOI, NRDAR Concerns conference call (nation-wide call).
- Participating in developing a “Tribal Only NRDAR Workshop,” sponsored by the NRDA Work Group, Washington D.C., for Indian Tribes nationwide (Workshop to be held May, 2015).
- Developing and positioning the Peoria Tribe Aquatic Facility, Endangered Fish and Mussel Species capabilities, for restoration activities and projects associated with the Tri-State Mining District / Tar Creek Superfund sites, and for production of a fish “Replacement Equivalency” species (in accord with the provisions of CERCLA) in lieu of the lost services of injured fish species, and reintroduction of the endangered Neosho Mucket mussel into the native habitat of Neosho and Spring Rivers.
J. L. Dixon