As of September 2021, the Commonwealth has settled over 20 NRD claims worth over $70 million.
Fish, wildlife, wetlands, and groundwater are natural resources. Spills of oil or chemicals can harm them. From the time of a spill until cleanup is complete, resources are degraded or lost.
By law, certain agencies work on behalf of the public as Trustees for natural resources. In Massachusetts, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs serves as Trustee. MassDEP runs the Natural Resource Damages Program. Federal agencies also act as Trustees. MassDEP works most often with the U.S. Department of the Interior and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Only federal, State, and Tribal Trustees may bring and settle NRD claims on behalf of the public.
NRD settlements fund restoration projects across the state. MassDEP involves the public in a planning or grant process to identify projects.