Emergency Law Inventory | Full Law Text

Law Number

ORC Ann. 2305.39

Summary Title

Liability: Damages Relating to Oil Spill


An individual who acts under a national contingency plan and provides care, assistance, or advice during an oil spill will not be held legally responsible for acting or failing to act. They can be held legally responsible if acting with extreme carelessness, intent to cause harm, or caused the oil spill.

Full Title

Immunity of non-responsible persons responding to oil spill

Full Text

(A) As used in this section: (1) “Damages” means damages of any kind for which liability may exist under the laws of this state resulting from, arising out of, or related to the discharge or threatened discharge of oil. (2) “Discharge” means an intentional or unintentional emission of oil into or upon the navigable waters located within this state or the adjoining shorelines of such navigable waters, including spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, or dumping. “Discharge” does not include natural seepage. (3) “Federal on-scene coordinator” means the federal official designated in the national contingency plan. (4) “National contingency plan” means the plan prepared and published under the “Federal Water Pollution Control Act,” 33 U.S.C.A. 1321(d), as amended by the “Oil Pollution Act of 1990,” Pub. L. No. 101-380, 104 Stat. 484. (5) “Oil” means oil of any kind or in any form, including petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, oil refuse, and oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil. “Oil” does not include petroleum, including crude oil or any fraction thereof that is specifically a hazardous substance identified or listed in rules adopted under division (B)(1)(c) of section 3750.02 of the Revised Code. (6) “Person” has the same meaning as in section 1.59 of the Revised Code and additionally includes governmental entities. (7) “Removal costs” means the costs of containing and removing oil that are incurred after a discharge of oil has occurred or, when there is a substantial threat of a discharge of oil, the costs of preventing, minimizing, or mitigating oil pollution arising from the incident, including the costs of taking other actions as may be necessary to minimize or mitigate damage to the public health or welfare, and damage to fish, shellfish, wildlife, and public and private property, including shorelines and beaches. (8) “Responsible party” has the same meaning as in the “Oil Pollution Act of 1990,” Pub. L. No. 101-380, 104 Stat. 486, 33 U.S.C.A. 2701. (9) “Navigable waters” has the same meaning as in the “Federal Water Pollution Act Amendments of 1972,” 86 Stat. 816, 33 U.S.C.A. 1251, as amended. (B) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person, other than a responsible party, is not liable for removal costs or damages that result from an act or omission in the course of rendering care, assistance, or advice consistent with the national contingency plan, or as otherwise directed by the federal on-scene coordinator or by a state official with responsibility for responding to a discharge. Division (B) of this section does not apply to acts or omissions of the person constituting gross negligence or reckless or willful misconduct. (C) (1) This section does not limit or affect the liability of a responsible party. A responsible party is liable for removal costs or damages resulting from the act or omission of a person who is relieved of liability under division (B) of this section. (2) This section does not limit or affect the liability of any person for personal injury or wrongful death. (3) This section does not create a new cause of action or substantive legal right against any person resulting from an act or omission in the course of responding to a discharge.