Events & Media

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara



"The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill NRDA:
the good, the bad, and the ugly"

Robert Haddad
Division Chief, Assessment and Restoration Division
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Response and Restoration

Thursday, April 5, 2012
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1414

"The Natural Resource Damage Assessment (commonly known as the NRDA) for the Deepwater Horizon spill is the most complex and expensive ever undertaken, already reaching into the billions of dollars. As the director of the NOAA office conducting the damage assessment, Bob Haddad has a unique vantage on this science-enabled legal process, which he will share with us during his lecture.  Whether you are interested in the science behind damage assessment, the economics for assessing environmental damage, the NRDA process — or just want an update on the Deepwater Horizon — you should attend this talk."— David Valentine, Host, Professor, UCSB Department of Earth Science

The explosion and fire on the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon a year ago killed 11 men and injured 17 others. The rig sank and left the well spewing tens of thousands of barrels of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico. In battling the spill, unprecedented volumes of dispersants were used, both at the surface and at depth.

Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), those responsible for an oil spill are financially responsible for a variety of costs, including spill cleanup costs, increased costs of public services related to the spill, property damage related to the spill, compensation for public and private economic losses, and restoration of injured natural resources. State and federal natural resource trustees are responsible for leading efforts to assess damage to natural resources and to restore those injured resources to the condition they would have been in had the spill not occurred.

The Deepwater Horizon NRDA, given its geographic size, multi-dimensional nature and ecological complexity, may continue for years. State and federal trustees are working together to determine how the oil spill affected the Gulf of Mexico’s natural resources and the human use of those natural resources. With potential natural resource injury spanning five states and their waters, as well as federal waters, this is the largest damage assessment ever undertaken.

The natural resource trustees for this case include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) from the federal government[5]

Robert Haddad earned his PhD in chemical oceanography at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with a focus on sedimentary organic geochemistry. Following post-doctoral fellowships at NASA and Stanford University, he joined Unocal’s Petroleum Geochemistry Research Group, providing company-wide consultation on petroleum exploration and environmental-liability issues. While at Unocal, Dr. Haddad also provided expert witness support in forensic geochemistry and technical leadership for Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) in Unocal’s worldwide emergency response organization. After leaving Unocal, he was responsible for strategic and technical leadership on NRDA cases under OPA, CERCLA, and CWA as West Coast Regional Risk Manager for ENTRIX, Inc. and then as a vice president for ARCADIS-JSA. Prior to joining NOAA, Dr. Haddad was president and principal scientist for Applied Geochemical Strategies, Inc. In this role, he provided strategic and technical liability consulting for clients (OPA and CERCLA NRDA and non-NRDA issues) and expert witness testimony in various aspects of forensic geochemistry.

For the past five years, Dr. Haddad has been Chief of the Assessment & Restoration Division within NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R). In this position, he also co-leads NOAA’s Damage Assessment Remediation & Restoration Program (DARRP). As part of his current responsibilities at NOAA, Dr. Haddad is leading NOAA’s injury assessment efforts as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment currently being conducted for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

NOTE: Community colloquia are generally talks of broad interest geared toward a diverse, sophisticated audience. Their purpose is not only to enhance knowledge and understanding, but also to bring people together and promote interaction that will strengthen the community.


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