N.Y. Navigation Law Section 176
Removal of prohibited discharges


Any person discharging petroleum in the manner prohibited by § 173 (Discharge of petroleum)section one hundred seventy-three of this article shall immediately undertake to contain such discharge. Notwithstanding the above requirement, the department may undertake the removal of such discharge and may retain agents and contractors who shall operate under the direction of such department for such purposes. The commissioner shall develop a system of immediate response type contracts with appropriate agents and contractors. Such contracts shall be subject to the approval of the state comptroller in accordance with State Finance Law § 112 (Accounting systems)section one hundred twelve of the state finance law, however, such approval shall not obligate to any particular contract any specific amount of monies from the fund but shall obligate from the fund on an individual basis as such contracts are utilized the actual amount required to effectuate any contract or any portion thereof. Any necessary approvals of availability of funds for a particular project in accordance with any provision of the state finance law shall be undertaken as soon as practical after clean up and removal procedures are undertaken, or such procedures are ordered by the commissioner.


(a) Upon the occurrence of a discharge of petroleum, the department shall respond promptly and proceed to cleanup and remove the discharge in accordance with environmental priorities or may, at its discretion, direct the discharger to promptly cleanup and remove the discharge. The department shall be responsible for cleanup and removal or as the case may be, for retaining agents and contractors who shall operate under the direction of that department for such purposes. Implementation of cleanup and removal procedures after each discharge shall be conducted in accordance with environmental priorities and procedures established by the department.


Section eight of the court of claims act or any other provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the state shall be immune from liability and action with respect to any act or omission done in the discharge of the department’s responsibility pursuant to this article; provided, however, that this subdivision shall not limit any liability which may otherwise exist for unlawful, willful or malicious acts or omissions on the part of the state, state agencies, or their officers, employees or agents or for a discharge in violation of § 173 (Discharge of petroleum)section one hundred seventy-three of this article.


Any unexplained discharge of petroleum within state jurisdiction or discharge of petroleum occurring in waters beyond state jurisdiction that for any reason penetrates within state jurisdiction shall be removed by or under the direction of the department. Except for those expenses incurred by the party causing such discharge, any expenses incurred in the removal of discharges shall be paid promptly from the New York environmental protection and spill compensation fund pursuant to sections one hundred and eighty-six and one hundred seventy-nine-a of this article and any reimbursements due such fund shall be collected in accordance with the provisions of § 187 (Reimbursements of moneys to fund)section one hundred and eighty-seven of this article.


Cleanup and removal of petroleum and actions to minimize damage from discharges shall be, to the greatest extent possible, in accordance with the National Contingency Plan for removal of oil and hazardous substances established pursuant to section 311 (d) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.), as amended by the Federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.), or revised under section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (42 U.S.C. 9605).


The department in consultation with the attorney general shall develop a standard contract form to be used when contracting services for the cleanup and removal of a discharge.


Whenever the department acts to remove a discharge or contracts to secure prospective removal services, it is authorized to draw upon the money available in the fund. Such moneys shall be used to pay promptly for all cleanup and removal costs incurred by the department.


(a) Nothing in this section is intended to preclude cleanup and removal by any person threatened by such discharges, who, as soon as is reasonably possible, coordinates and obtains approval for such actions with ongoing state or federal operations and appropriate state and federal authorities. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the liability of any contractor for such person, where such person obtains approval from appropriate state and federal authorities for such cleanup and removal, and the liability of any person providing services related to the cleanup or removal of a discharge, under contract with the department, for any injury to a person or property caused by or related to such services shall be limited to acts or omissions of the person during the course of performing such services which are shown to have been the result of negligence, gross negligence or reckless, wanton or intentional misconduct. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, when (i) a verdict or decision in an action or claim for injury to a person or property caused by or related to such services is determined in favor of a claimant in an action involving a person performing such services and any other person or persons jointly liable, and


the liability of the person performing such services is found to be fifty percent or less of the total liability assigned to all persons liable, and


the liability of the person performing such services is not based on a finding of reckless disregard for the safety of others, or intentional misconduct, then the liability of the person performing such services to the claimant for loss relating to injury to property and for non-economic loss relating to injury to a person shall not exceed the equitable share of the person performing such services determined in accordance with the relative culpability of each person causing or contributing to the total liability for such losses; provided, however, that the culpable conduct of any person not a party to the action shall not be considered in determining any equitable share herein if the claimant proves that with due diligence the claimant was unable to obtain jurisdiction over such person in said action. As used in this section, the term “non-economic loss” includes, but is not limited to, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium or other damages for non-economic loss. However, nothing in this subdivision shall be deemed to alter, modify or abrogate the liability of any person performing such services for breach of any express warranty, limited or otherwise, or an express or implied warranty under the uniform commercial code, or to an employee of such person pursuant to the workers’ compensation law, or to relieve from any liability any person who is responsible for a discharge in violation of § 174 (Licenses)section one hundred seventy-four of this article.


No action taken by any person to contain or remove a discharge shall be construed as an admission of liability for said discharge. No person who gratuitously renders assistance in containing or removing a discharge shall be liable for any civil damages to third parties resulting solely from acts or omissions of such person in rendering such assistance except for acts or omissions of gross negligence or willful misconduct. In the course of cleanup and removal, no person shall discharge any detergent into the waters of this state without prior authorization of the commissioner of environmental conservation.


A person may, without admission of responsibility for the discharge of petroleum and with the consent of the commissioner, commence clean up and removal of the discharge and upon the recommendation of the commissioner of health and with the consent of the fund undertake the relocation of persons affected by the discharge of petroleum. Upon determination by the fund that the person is not responsible for the discharge, the person shall be reimbursed by the fund for the actual and necessary expenses incurred.


Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, including but not limited to General Obligations Law § 15-108 (Release or covenant not to sue)section 15-108 of the general obligations law, every person providing cleanup, removal of discharge of petroleum or relocation of persons pursuant to this section shall be entitled to contribution from any other responsible party.

Source: Section 176 — Removal of prohibited discharges, https://www.­nysenate.­gov/legislation/laws/NAV/176 (updated Apr. 28, 2017; accessed Jun. 15, 2024).

Jun. 15, 2024

Last modified:
Apr. 28, 2017

§ 176’s source at nysenate​.gov

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