Spill Response and Liability: How Much Will a Spill Cost?

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shutterstock_141865642 - CopyWhen a spill occurs in facility or over the road, cost becomes one of a few pressing questions. There are so many factors that influence the cost of the spill: whether or not the material is released into water, whether or not the material is extremely hazardous, the quantity of the substance released, and more.

When it comes to fines and penalties, there are fines that are levied by local enforcement agencies and county health departments; there are fines and penalties that are levied by the state agencies; and finally there are fines and penalties levied by the federal government. The fines and penalties at the federal level can be as much as $100,000 per day, with each day being a separate and continuing violation. So if there’s a $100,000 penalty for failure to report a spill and the spill happens on Monday, and you don’t report it on Monday, and you don’t report it on Tuesday, and you finally get around to reporting it on Wednesday, you could be obligated to pay $300,000 in fines for failure to report (in addition to the local and state fines).

Clearly the costs can add up quickly. The best policy for avoiding excess fines, fees, and penalties is knowing your spill reporting duties, cleanup liability, and action plan. Understanding the jurisdictional idiosyncrasies is key to maintaining compliance. The timely reporting and cleanup afforded by contingency planning can even help in the battle to influence public opinion and keep your business in good standing.

There’s a lot to know about spill reporting, cleanup contractor use, compliance, preparedness, fines, and penalties. To learn more, contact us.