Reducing Environmental Risk

New York Navigation Law Sec. 181. Liability. Section 4

4. (a) The only defenses that may be raised by a person responsible for a discharge of petroleum are: an act or omission caused solely by (i) war, sabotage, or governmental negligence or (ii) an act or omission of a third party other than an employee or agent of the person responsible, or a third party whose act or omission occurs in connection with a contractual relationship with the person responsible, if the person responsible establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the person responsible (a) exercised due care with respect to the petroleum concerned, taking into consideration the characteristics of petroleum and in light of all relevant facts and circumstances; and (b) took precautions against the acts or omissions of any such third party and the consequences of those acts or omissions. These defenses shall not apply to a person responsible who refuses or fails to (a) report the discharge, or (b) provide all reasonable cooperation and assistance in cleanup and removal activities undertaken on behalf of the fund by the department. In any case where a person responsible for a discharge establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that a discharge and the resulting cleanup and removal costs were caused solely by an act or omission of one or more third parties as described above, the third party or parties shall be treated as the person or persons responsible for the purposes of determining liability under this article.(b) Nothing set forth in this subdivision shall be construed to hold a lender liable to the state as a person responsible for the discharge of petroleum at a site in the event: (i) such lender, without participating in the management of such site, holds indicia of ownership primarily to protect the lender’s security interest in the site, or (ii) such lender did not participate in the management of such site prior to a foreclosure, and such lender: 

(1) forecloses on such site; and

(2) after foreclosure, sells, re-leases (in the case of a lease finance transaction), or liquidates such site, maintains business activities, winds up operations, or takes any other measure to preserve, protect or prepare such site for sale or disposition; provided however, that such lender shall take actions to sell, re-lease (in the case of a lease finance transaction), or otherwise divest itself of such site at the earliest practicable, commercially reasonable time, on commercially reasonable terms, taking into account market conditions and legal and regulatory requirements.

(c) This exemption shall not apply to any lender that has (i) caused or contributed to the discharge of petroleum from or at the site, (ii) purchased, sold, refined, transported, or discharged petroleum from or at such site, or (iii) caused the purchase, sale, refinement, transportation, or discharge of petroleum from or at such site.

The terms “participating in management,” “foreclosure,” “lender” and “security interest” shall have the same meaning as those terms are defined in paragraph (c) of subdivision one of section 27-1323 of the environmental conservation law.



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