Oil companies, staff remain liable for spill damage during N.J. home deliveries

(Gene J. Puskar/AP)

(Gene J. Puskar/AP)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has vetoed legislation that would have relieved oil companies and their staff from liability for damages from spills during home heating oil deliveries.

It was a bad bill that would have put the environment and homeowners at risk, said Jeff Tittel, New Jersey Sierra Club director.

“When you make sure that polluters are held accountable, there’s less likely to be a spill. We also felt there was an undue burden to homeowners because, if they don’t clean up the spill, then the homeowner or the homeowner’s insurance would have to pay,” he said. “And that would either cost the homeowners more money or their insurance companies, which would mean higher premiums.”

What’s more, Tittel said, those spills represent a threat to safety and health.

“One quart of oil pollutes a million gallons of water. And many of the homes in New Jersey that are on oil are in rural areas with wells,” he said. “So any spill or accident could have real devastating impacts on people’s water supply.”

The legislation would have been a serious departure from the way the state’s Spill Compensation and Control Act has assigned liability for hazardous spills and cleanup for more than 40 years, Murphy said.

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