November 11, 2015 Articles

New Jersey's Appellate Division Opens Door to Spill Act Claims Against the State

Responsible parties now have a second, often ignored, possible avenue of recovery of cleanup costs under the Spill Act.

By John J. DiChello – November 11, 2015

Many responsible parties never consider pursuing the State of New Jersey for cleanup costs under New Jersey’s Spill Compensation and Control Act. No more. In a case of first impression, NL Industries, Inc. v. New Jersey, No. A0869-14T3, 2015 N.J. Super. LEXIS 161 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Aug. 26, 2015) (approved for publication on Sept. 23, 2015), the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey held that New Jersey’s Spill Compensation and Control Act, section 58:10-23.11 of the New Jersey Statutes—which imposes strict, joint, and several liability for cleanups of contaminated sites on any party who “is in any way responsible” for the discharge of hazardous substances—applies to both private entities as well as the State of New Jersey. This decision will give responsible parties conducting remediation at contaminated sites an additional party to target for contribution to cleanup costs under the Spill Act. Equally significant, consistent with the Spill Act’s broad scope, the State need not be directly involved in the discharge of hazardous substances to be subject to liability under the Spill Act; the State may be liable for simply approving the activities that resulted in the discharge.

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