§ 46-12.9-5. Purpose of fund.
(a) The purpose of the fund shall be to facilitate the clean-up of releases from leaking underground storage tanks, underground storage-tank systems, including those located on sites in order to protect the environment, including drinking water supplies and public health.
(b) The fund shall provide reimbursement to responsible parties for the eligible costs incurred by them as a result of releases of certain petroleum from underground storage tanks or underground storage-tank systems as provided herein. Monies in the fund shall be dispensed only upon the order of the department for the following purposes:
(1) The fund shall pay not more than one million dollars ($1,000,000) per incident, and up to two million dollars ($2,000,000) in the aggregate, for damages of eligible costs, as defined in regulations promulgated hereunder and, as further defined in § 46-12.9-3, excluding legal costs and expenses, incurred by a responsible party as a result of a release of petroleum from an underground storage tank or underground storage-tank system; provided, however, that a responsible party may be responsible for the first twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) of said eligible costs;
(2) Reimbursement for any third-party claim including, but not limited to, claims for bodily injury, property damage, and damage to natural resources that are asserted against a responsible party and that have arisen as a result of a release of petroleum from an underground storage tank or underground storage-tank system, in an amount not to exceed one million dollars ($1,000,000) for each release as set forth in subsection (b)(1); provided, that such claims are found by the department to be justified, reasonable, related to the release of petroleum, and not excessive or spurious in nature;
(3) Costs incurred by the department in carrying out the investigative, remedial, and corrective action activities at sites of a petroleum release associated with an underground storage tank or underground storage-tank system where the responsible party fails to comply with an order of the department to undertake such activities. In the event of such failure or documented inability to comply, the department may access the fund to perform the ordered work and may proceed to recover from the responsible party, on behalf of the fund, any amount expended from the fund by the department;
(4) Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to prevent subrogation by the state of Rhode Island against any responsible party, other than the owner and/or operator, for all sums of money that the fund shall be obligated to pay hereunder, plus reasonable attorneys' fees and costs of litigation and such right of subrogation is hereby created; and
(5) Eligible costs incurred by the department to support the fund, including, but not limited to, all personnel support to process and review claims in order to formulate recommendations for reimbursement for consideration, and providing meeting space for board meetings; provided, however, that no more than five hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($550,000) shall be dispensed from the fund for administrative purposes during any fiscal year. The department shall directly access the fund, pursuant to the limits set forth in subdivision (b)(1) of this section, to pay for such expenses.
(6) [Deleted by P.L. 2016, ch. 148, § 1 and P.L. 2016, ch. 160, § 1].
(P.L. 1994, ch. 144, § 1; P.L. 1997, ch. 30, art. 39, § 1; P.L. 1998, ch. 31, art. 23, § 1; P.L. 1998, ch. 114, § 1; P.L. 2001, ch. 328, § 1; P.L. 2002, ch. 297, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 246, art. 27, § 3; P.L. 2007, ch. 340, § 45; P.L. 2008, ch. 475, § 30; P.L. 2016, ch. 148, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 160, § 1; P.L. 2017, ch. 80, § 1; P.L. 2017, ch. 92, § 1.)