Spill Center™, the North American leader in spill support and environmental claims management, offers a wealth of information on its blog for companies at risk for accidental releases of hazardous materials and other pollution events. One blog entry discusses priorities that spill generators should observe in the aftermath of an environmental release of regulated materials.
After stopping the flow of the leaking material and ensuring that the pollutant does not reach a body of water or drainage ditch, the most important next step to take is completing the mandatory incident reporting to the authority or authorities with jurisdiction over the spill site. Failure to make the reports within the required timeframe can bring stiff fines and penalties for non-compliance.
“It is important to understand the spill generator’s legal responsibility,” observes Tom Moses, Spill Center president and founder who holds a law degree and a certificate in hazardous materials control and emergency response. “Are you responsible for making reports even if the spill was not your driver’s fault?” he asks. “In a word, yes.”
After a transportation accident, for example, the carrier having care, custody and control of a material at the time of loss is considered the spill generator and is responsible for spill damages, cleanup costs and making all required incident reports, both by telephone and written. Oftentimes, spills involve several jurisdictions, each with its own reporting requirements,” explains Tom.
Spill Center’s blog, found at www.spillcenter.net/blog/, discusses topics related to minimizing costs and limiting liability related to spills and pollution events. Strict liability is “legal responsibility without regard to fault,” explains Tom. Strict liability makes the spill generator responsible for paying damages associated with the spill, including the following:
- Costs related to response, reporting, remediation and waste disposal
- Property damage and bodily injury arising from the spill
- Fines and penalties for failing to comply with reporting regulations
- Reimbursement of emergency services
In the Blog, Tom also offers recommendations on ways to maintain a legally defensible position against third-party claimants. “After a spill requiring environmental cleanup, all activities, including efforts taken to contain and stop leaking materials and all regulatory reporting activities, should be logged. In truck-related incidents, drivers should write down everything they do after a spill to avoid being drawn into a pre-existing contamination problem as a responsible party,” he relates.
“Being able to document that a release was separate in time, separate in nature, and was the subject of a separate and complete response and remediation will go a long way toward a successful defense,” he explains. “That driver’s log will provide a written record that can be used to place the company in a legally defensible position.”
Other blog topics address recalls of hazardous products, working with contractors, invoice auditing and dealing with emergency responders seeking reimbursement. Tom also discusses Spill Center’s program of support to clients in the transportation, chemical and insurance industries.
For nearly 30 years, Spill Center’s expertise in spill management and environmental claims handling has helped hundreds of clients, from the largest truckload, LTL, private fleets and small fleets to truck leasing, chemical, environmental and insurance companies.
Says Tom, “I started Spill Center on the premise that no company will ever have enough environmental spills to get good at managing them efficiently and cost-effectively. We deal with spills every day on behalf of clients, filing more than 300 US DOT Incident Report forms each month – more incident reports on behalf of clients than any other organization in North America,” he notes.
“Clients count on us to get past spill incidents and avoid fines and penalties for non-compliance with reporting regulations. We can tailor our menu of services to the needs of any company that is at risk for pollution events of all kinds, whether from storage tanks, pipelines, property development, manufacturing, railroad operations or other commercial transportation businesses.”