Local fire departments and hazardous materials teams often respond to events involving the release of a hazardous substance. This fact sheet is intended to assist local hazardous substance emergency responding agencies recover cleanup costs according to Missouri Revised Statutes, sections 260.500 to 260.550, RSMo, sometimes referred to as the “Spill Bill.”
Recommended Procedure For Billing
The following steps should be followed when trying to recover costs incurred while handling a hazardous substance release. Remember the billing is to recover actual costs while trying to clean up/mitigate the release of the hazardous substance. Its purpose is not to acquire new equipment that may be used by the agency for future responses or replace exhausted equipment. See the Sample Hazardous Substance Emergency Response Cost Recovery Statement provided by a committee comprised of Division of Fire Safety, Department of Natural Resources and local response agencies across Missouri.
Report the release to the Department of Natural Resources' 24-hour spill line at 573-634-2436. This will help document the release and can assist with consistency in response details.
Keep good documentation of the activities at the site and who performed various duties (using ICS forms and submitting them will help document the response). Include photos of any damaged equipment. If any gear needed to be cleaned or replaced, submit documentation (including photos) of the cleaning and pricing.
An itemized, dated, detailed bill (see attached example invoice) should be sent by certified mail, with a return receipt requested, to the person having control of the hazardous substance (owner, responsible party, etc.). If equipment was destroyed and compensation is being sought, explain how and why it was lost, including information as to how the replacement cost was determined. This bill should include copies of all bills for any assistance required from other departments as defined in the statute. It should be noted the person having control of the hazardous substance can contest the billing if done in accordance with the law.
If payment is not received within 30 days, resubmit the detailed billing by certified mail, with a return receipt requested, along with a copy of sections 260.500-260.550, RSMo (or at least section 260.546). It is important to outline the part of the law that states, “Full payment shall be made within 30 days of receipt of the cost statement.” Also, it would be advisable to note to them that “John Doe” signed for the initial statement, which was sent earlier.
If the second step is unsuccessful at recovering costs incurred, your agency will need to seek legal counsel (city attorney, county prosecutor, etc.) to assist with the cost recovery.
Send one invoice for all agencies involved. This invoice should be sent by the lead agency responsible for the incident with jurisdictional authority.
Appeal of Emergency Expenses
If the person having control over the hazardous substance elects to contest the payment of such costs, such person shall file an appeal with the director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources within 30 days of receipt of the cost statement. If a billing is contested, it is important that the agency trying to collect incurred costs has submitted an itemized, detailed bill.
This itemized detailed bill and proper supporting documentation (narrative incident summary, final reports, invoices, receipts, etc.) will help the director in resolving the appeal in a timely manner. According to section 260.546, RSMo, “The burden of proof shall be on the political subdivision or volunteer fire protection district to document and justify such costs allowed under subsection 1 of this section.”
Questions about cost recovery may be directed to the department’s Environmental Services Program at 573-526-3315.
Other Sources of Financial Assistance
Fire Association Billing
Section 320.302, RSMo, allows non-tax supported fire departments that respond to emergencies of non-members or non-subscribers to charge a fee. The amount may be up to $100 for responding to the emergency and $500 for each hour or a proportional sum for each quarter hour spent providing emergency services.
Local Government Reimbursement
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a program designed to reimburse local governments that have been affected by costs beyond those routinely incurred when dealing with a hazardous substance release. The Local Governments Reimbursement Program is found under Code of Federal Regulations 40 C.F.R. Part 310, which defines a hazardous substance in section 101 (14) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). Only emergencies involving CERCLA compounds will be eligible for compensation using the Local Governments Reimbursement Program. This does not include petroleum, crude oil or any fraction thereof.
The Local Governments Reimbursement Program will reimburse local governments for expenses incurred in carrying out temporary emergency measures. These measures must be necessary to prevent or mitigate injury to human health or the environment associated with the release of any hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. The financial relief is limited to $25,000 per single response. For more information about the Local Governments Reimbursement Program, or to receive an application, call 800-431-9209 visit EPA's Local Governments Reimbursement Program.
Oil Pollution Act
EPA has a program designed to reimburse cost associated with petroleum releases that enter or threaten to enter U.S. waters. The Oil Pollution Act improved the nation’s ability to prevent and provide money and resources necessary to respond to oil spills. To obtain more information about the Oil Pollution Act fund, contact EPA Region 7 at 913-551-7000.
Nothing in this document may be used to implement any enforcement action or levy any penalty unless promulgated by rule under chapter 536 or authorized by statute.