Section 8: Oil Spill Prevention and Response Trust Fund; source of revenue; use; purpose
Section 8. (a) There shall be an Oil Spill Prevention and Response Trust Fund to provide emergency loans and to support the development, training and equipping of safety committees, response teams, rescue tugs dispatched under section 9 and other discreet units whose activities will directly benefit the commonwealth in the event of oil spill events. The fund shall be administered by the commissioner of environmental protection. Expenditures from the fund shall be only for the purposes set forth in subsection (f).
(b) Revenues credited to the fund shall be from the following sources:
(1) funds appropriated by the general court;
(2) funds received from federal, state or other sources for the purpose of response, containment, abatement and rehabilitation costs from oil spills in marine or estuarine waters not already credited to an existing fund;
(3) funds received from private donors for the fund;
(4) costs recovered or otherwise received from parties responsible for the containment and cleanup of oil at specific sites;
(5) fines, penalties and damages recovered under this chapter;
(6) fees imposed pursuant to subsection (c);
(7) the VTS system fee collected pursuant to section 2; and
(8) interest earned on any moneys in the fund.
(c) (1) A uniform oil spill response and prevention fee in an amount not exceeding 5 cents for each barrel of petroleum product shall be imposed upon a person owning petroleum products at the time the petroleum products are received at a marine terminal within the commonwealth by means of a vessel from a point of origin outside the commonwealth. The fee shall be remitted to the department of revenue on the thirtieth day of each month based upon the number of barrels of petroleum products received during the preceding month.
(2) An owner of petroleum products shall be liable for the fee until it has been paid to the commonwealth, except that payment to a marine terminal operator registered under this chapter is sufficient to relieve the owner from further liability for the fee.
(3) All fees collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the fund and shall be disbursed for the purposes set forth in subsection (f). The state treasurer shall not deposit or transfer revenues generated pursuant to subsection (b) to the General Fund or any other fund other than the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Trust Fund.
(d) The commissioner may use money from the fund:
(1) to provide funds to cover promptly the costs of response, containment and cleanup of oil spills into marine or estuarine waters including, but not limited to, natural resource damage assessment costs and wildlife rehabilitation.
(2) for site evaluation activities, including, but not limited to, site mapping, installation of wells and equipment, collection, monitoring and analysis of samples of air, soil and water and evaluation of the impacts of contamination of marine and terrestrial environments, production of reports and implementation and maintenance of necessary technology and equipment for complete remedial action;
(3) to provide interest-free emergency loans and to cover response and cleanup costs and other damages suffered by the commonwealth or other persons or entities from oil spills or threatened oil spills, which cannot otherwise be compensated by responsible parties or the federal government;
(4) to pay for claims for damages pursuant to clause (8);
(5) to provide interest-free emergency loans to workers including, but not limited to, commercial fishermen who are unable to work as a direct result of an oil spill and are ineligible for unemployment insurance;
(6) to pay for natural resource restoration, where necessary and appropriate;
(7) to pay for response training and equipment for municipal oil spill response agencies and training and safety equipment for Massachusetts state pilots commissioned pursuant to chapter 103;
(8) to pay for large-scale personnel drills and exercises;
(9) to pay for vessel navigational safety improvements including, but not limited to, systems for supplying real-time navigation condition information using the Physical Oceanographic Real-Time Systems (PORTS) operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and
(10) to pay for appropriately manned rescue tugs and state pilots in Buzzards Bay, dispatched under section 9.
(e) (1) The commissioner shall administer the fund in accordance with this chapter.
(2) The department of environmental protection shall develop procedures governing the expenditure of, and accounting for, money expended from the fund.
(3) The commissioner shall ensure that there are adequate moneys available in the fund to carry out this chapter.
(4) The department shall maintain accounting records showing the income and expenses of the fund.
(f) (1) The commissioner may expend money from the fund for the purposes of oil spill prevention and response equipment or training, commonwealth response to a discharge or threat of a discharge of oil and assessment of natural resource damages if the following determinations have been made:
(i) a responsible party does not exist or the responsible party is unable or unwilling to provide adequate and timely cleanup and pay for the damages resulting from the spill; provided, however, that the commissioner shall make a reasonable effort to have the responsible party timely remove the oil or agree to pay for any actions resulting from the spill that may be required by law, including attempting to access funds from the responsible party's insurer; provided further, that the efforts shall not be detrimental to fish, plant, animal or bird life in the affected waters: and
(ii) federal oil spill funds are not available or will not be available in an adequate period of time; provided, however, that notwithstanding this paragraph, the commissioner may expend money from the fund for authorized expenditures when a reimbursement procedure is in place to receive reimbursements from federal oil spill funds.
(2) Disbursements may also be made for related purposes, including:
(i) administrative expenses, personnel expenses and equipment costs of the commonwealth related to the administration of the fund and enforcement of this chapter;
(ii) all costs including, without limitation, personnel undertaking oil spill response activities and equipment expenses involved in the removal of oil, the abatement of oil pollution and the implementation of remedial measures, including restoration of water supplies, related to the release of oil, petroleum products and their byproducts;
(iii) sums allocated to research and development in accordance with this section, including the costs of assessing and evaluating the injury, destruction or loss of natural resources;
(iv) payment of damage claims and loans awarded in accordance with this section;
(v) the VTS system fee collected pursuant to section 2;
(vi) payment of costs for the collection of overdue reimbursements; and
(vii) payment of costs associated with appropriately manned rescue tugs and state pilots in Buzzards Bay, dispatched under section 9.
(g)(1) Any person may apply to the fund for reasonable compensation for damages and losses suffered as a result of an oil spill under any of the following conditions, to the extent monies are available in the fund for such claims:
(i) the responsible parties cannot be ascertained.
(ii) federal oil spill funds are not available or will not be available in an adequate period of time; provided, however, that notwithstanding this clause, the commissioner may expend money from the fund for authorized expenditures when a reimbursement procedure is in place to receive reimbursements from federal oil spill funds.
(iii) emergency loans; provided, however, that in the event of an oil spill where more than 5,000 gallons of oil have been discharged in the marine or estuarine waters in any 1 day from a single event, the commissioner, after a properly noticed public hearing, may make an emergency secured interest-free loan to a private individual or entity who demonstrates that the individual or entity may suffer substantial financial hardship as a result of the oil spill without such loans; provided further, that loans under this section may be made only if the commissioner determines that a sufficient amount is available in the fund to cover costs incurred by the fund and local governments and entities in responding to and cleaning up the spill; and provided further, that the commissioner shall adopt any regulations and guidelines necessary regarding repayment terms, security and any other items the administrator deems appropriate.
(2) Awards from the fund on damage claims shall not include any amount the claimant has recovered on account of the same damage by way of settlement with the responsible party or his representatives or by the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction against the responsible party, to the extent these amounts are duplicative.
(3) The commissioner shall pay only those claims that are approved pursuant to this section.
(4) A responsible party shall not be eligible for compensation under this section.
(5) Damage claims shall not include expenditures for the preparation and prosecution of the damage claim, such as legal fees or real estate appraisal fees.
(6) Nothing in this section shall be construed to confer a right on an eligible claimant to receive compensation from the fund.
(h) The attorney general, in consultation with the commissioner, shall initiate actions to recover all costs to the fund from any responsible party for an oil spill into marine or estuarine waters for which expenditures are made from the fund. The recovery of costs pursuant to this section shall not foreclose the attorney general from any other actions allowed by law.
(i) Recognizing the importance of the development of readiness and response programs, the general court may allocate up to $150,000 per year of the amount then currently in the fund to be devoted to research and development regarding the causes, effects and removal of pollution caused by oil, petroleum products and their by-products on the marine environment. Such funds may be disbursed, in whole or in part, to regional committees including, but not limited to, the Buzzards bay geographic response plan committee, for expenses consistent with these purposes. The remaining moneys in the fund which the general court may allocate to research and development shall be used for purposes approved by the commissioner. Such purposes may include, but shall not be limited to:
(i) sensitive area data management and mapping;
(ii) scientific research which is directly relevant to state legislation;
(iii) development of more effective removal and containment technologies appropriate for the cleanup and containment of oil and petroleum products; and
(iv) oil spill prevention or response equipment and funding to train personnel, for coastal municipalities and Massachusetts state pilots commissioned pursuant to chapter 103.