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Oil spills and unplanned releases of other hazardous materials can result in significant environmental liability and may require studies to address penalties, natural resource damage claims, and third-party litigation. SWCA scientists are recognized leaders in natural resource damage assessment (NRDA).

SWCA’s team of toxicologists, biologists, ecologists, and economists has been working together for more than 20 years to help responsible parties resolve natural resource damage claims under both the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). We provide comprehensive, full-life-cycle technical and strategic support through all phases of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process beginning with emergency response or site characterization, during injury quantification and restoration scaling, through cooperative resolution via restoration, cash settlement, or litigation. 

We have worked cooperatively with natural resource trustees in 41 states and Puerto Rico and participated in more than 25% of NRDA settlements reached under OPA. Our team has successfully resolved injuries related to: habitats including forests, forested floodplains, freshwater creeks and rivers, inland and coastal wetlands, mangroves, and contaminated sediments; populations of fish, shellfish, marine mammals, sea turtles, birds, and bats; and human use activities including boating, fishing, hunting, beachgoing, and hiking. 

25% of all NRDAs under OPA involved SWCA team members

140 Liability Assessment Sites in 41 States

20+ Years Working Together as a NRDA Team

Relevant Services

  • Ephemeral Data Collection
  • Impact Assessment Studies for Habitats, Wildlife, and Recreational Resources
  • Chemical Transport, Fate, and Effects Modeling
  • Injury Quantification and Restoration Scaling
  • Identification of Cost-Effective Restoration Options  
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Ecological Risk Assessment
  • Expert Testimony and Litigation Support
  • Insurance and Third-party Claim Support
  • Ecological Restoration Design and Implementation
  • NRDA Economics

Meet the Experts

Ralph Markarian

Dr. Markarian has a background in aquatic ecology and toxicology and has served in both senior technical and managing director roles in numerous NRDAs, nationally and internationally, for over 35 years. He has provided litigation support and expert testimony on natural resource impacts in numerous cases.

ralph.markarian [at] (Contact Ralph  →)

Jeff Wakefield

Dr. Wakefield is formally trained in Economics, Marine Biology, and Biochemistry. He has over 20 years of experience working in oil spill response, conducting cooperative NRDAs, and evaluating third party claims related to property and commercial fisheries impacts.

jeff.wakefield [at] (Contact Jeff  →)