On behalf of the Secretary of  the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), MassDEP implements a program to assess natural resource damages (NRD) resulting from releases of oil or hazardous materials within the Commonwealth and to require restoration of these injured resources to functional ecological systems.

The Goal of NRD

The overall goal of a NRD action is to restore injured resources. The NRD action may also include compensation to the public for the lost use (including human use) of the injured resource from onset of injury to completion of restoration. The goal of the NRD program is consistent with EEA and MassDEP's overall strategic goals for the protection of the environment and restoration of resources.

The Trustees' duty is to exercise general care and oversight of the natural resources of the Commonwealth, to propose and carry out measures for the protection, conservation, control, and use thereof; and to remedy any damage or destruction to the environment.

Restoration benefits the Commonwealth's wildlife and habitat as well as the public's use of those resources. Through successful implementation of this program, MassDEP is better enabled to protect and manage its vast array of natural resources.  Lack of timely action by the Commonwealth in response to these spills could result in long-term or even permanent lost use of valuable resources such as our groundwater, wetlands, wildlife and habitat.

To date, the Commonwealth, working in cooperation with federal Trustees, has successfully negotiated NRD settlements with industrial polluters at 14 sites. MassDEP is committed to implementing a comprehensive NRD program which requires polluters to restore injured resources and to compensate the public for the inability to use and enjoy those resources. For the 14 sites with NRD settlements, total NRD recovery is approximately $55 million.

Additionally, a number of sites have experienced a release or threat of release of oil or hazardous substances and are under assessment.

NRD Process to Assess Injury, Recover Damages, and Restore Natural Resources

Assess Injury

When a release of oil or hazardous materials or substances occurs, Trustees take action to:

  • Conduct a pre-assessment screen to review available information and determine if a NRD assessment can and should be performed
  • Identify natural resources that have been lost, destroyed, or injured by toxic pollutants
  • Determine and quantify the spatial and temporal extent of injuries

Recover Natural Resource Damages

  • Identify and evaluate feasible and cost-effective alternatives to restore resources to a baseline condition
  • Seek appropriate compensation from polluters in the form of monetary damages or restoration actions
  • Damages can include:
    • Cost of restoration
    • Compensable value, or the compensation to the public for the lost services from onset of injury to completion of restoration
    • Cost of conducting the NRD assessment and managing restoration planning and implementation

Restore Natural Resources

Trustees are required to develop and adopt restoration plans before natural resource damages can be spent.

  • Restoration plans consider all reasonable alternatives and public comment and guide future restoration decisions
  • Implement, oversee and monitor restoration actions to achieve a healthy ecosystem as quickly and effectively as possible
  • Restoration benefits the Commonwealth's wildlife and habitat as well as the public's use of those resources


Karen Pelto
Natural Resource Damages Coordinator
Email: karen.pelto@state.ma.us
Phone: 617-292-5785