TITLE 46
Waters and Navigation

CHAPTER 46-12.3
The Environmental Injury Compensation Act

SECTION 46-12.3-8


   § 46-12.3-8  Responders liability. – (a) Nothing in this chapter or any other provision of law shall be construed to hold persons, other than those responsible for the initial discharge, who render care, assistance or advice with respect to the discharge of petroleum or petroleum products into or on the waters of the state, regarding the amelioration of environmental damage caused by the discharge, strictly liable for their acts or omissions.

   (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person who takes action or omits to take actions in rendering care, assistance or advice relating to containment and clean up of or otherwise responding to a discharge or threat of discharge of petroleum or petroleum products into or on the surface waters of the state, consistent with the national contingency plan or as otherwise directed by the federal on-scene coordinator or by the director of the department of environmental management, shall not be liable for any costs, expenses or damages of any kind; provided, however, that this limitation shall not apply to such costs, expenses and/or damages that are a proximate result of that person's gross negligence or willful misconduct, and provided further this exemption shall not apply with respect to personal injury or wrongful death.

   (c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person responsible for the initial discharge shall be liable for any and all costs, expenses or damages for which a responder is relieved of liability under this section, and any injured person with a claim against a person who is relieved of liability by this section may bring an action for recovery of the costs of cleanup and removal and direct and indirect damages directly against the person responsible for the initial discharge. Nothing in this section shall serve to limit or reduce the strict liability of a person responsible for the initial discharge for any injury or damage resulting from a discharge of petroleum or petroleum products, including, but not limited to, damage or injury to the environment or natural resources of the state, injury to the person, property damage or economic loss to any individual, corporation, partnership or other business entity.

   (d) Nothing in this section shall preclude any claim by any person seeking recovery for the costs of cleanup and removal or direct and indirect damages in an action brought directly against the person responsible for the initial discharge pursuant to any other provisions of the general laws or pursuant to common law, or limit the damages which can be awarded in such action.

   (e) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an owner, operator or a person holding a masters license to operate a vessel is not liable for cleanup and removal costs or damages which result from actions taken in good faith in the course of rendering assistance, in an emergency situation, at the request of the owner or operator of a vessel attempting to prevent the substantial threat of a discharge of petroleum into or upon the waters of the state; provided however, that reasonable efforts are made to notify the federal on scene coordinator or the director of the department of environmental management or his or her designee prior to such assistance being rendered or, if that is not practicable, as soon as possible thereafter. This limitation shall not apply to such costs, expenses or damages that are the proximate result of that masters gross negligence or willful misconduct, and provide further that this exemption shall not apply with respect to personal injury or wrongful death.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1990, ch. 198, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 110, § 1; P.L. 1997, ch. 32, § 4.)