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Senior Advisor

Oil Spill

I had a guy call me today and told me an oil line had come apart on a piece of ground that I currently farm on a share lease and there was an oil spill.  He was wanting to know what they owed me.  I told them I would have to look at it and get back with them as soon as I saw how bad the spill was.  Am I wrong in requesting that they remove all the soil that the spill contaminated and replace it with fresh top soil down to a depth of 3' or however deep the contamination went?  And question #2, would I also be wrong in requesting a soil analysis of the fill dirt they will be replacing it with before they start to backfill and charge them the difference in fertility?  I really pushed the fertilizer on this ground the last 6 years and would hate to lose all those nutrients.

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35 Replies
Honored Advisor

Re: Oil Spill

What surface was ruined by the spill?  I thnk fair compensation would be lost profits on the area for the life of the lease.  Remediation of the soil itself is more properly a regulatory function...the agency that has oversight for how the damage has to be fixed.  Your role is to recover your own losses.  

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Senior Advisor

Re: Oil Spill

I've seen oil spill results before, and the ground produces absolutely 0 for several years, probably the life of the rest of my farming career.  This is why I was curious of the soil replacement.  If I charge for loss of production, I would get a check every year, that doesn't fix the problem.  My family has farmed this ground for over 50 years, I don't think I am in danger of losing the lease, so this doesn't really offer a solution either.

 

I think the oil producer would rather handle this between him & I and not get the governing authorities involved.  I am in favor of this if he holds up his end of whatever agreement we come up with.  I'm sure if EPA would get involved it would become a huge litigation and possibly some monetary fines, I don't want him to be on their radar if we can prevent it.

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Frequent Contributor

Re: Oil Spill

Both you and the landlord should be compensated. I would suggest a one time settlement for both of you. Oil producers come and go. New producers of the field may not feel that they are liable for past producers unless that was stipulated when the producers changed. Don't count on that one. I have dealt with different producers taking over production in the same field for over twenty years. A one time settlement also removes liability from the producer of the oil and places it solely on the land owner/tenant. It's your baby then if there are any long term enviromental problems show up. God, don't you hate attorneys.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Oil Spill

Was it an oil spill or a salt water spill? Big difference. Crude is actually a pretty good fertilizer, salt water is a ground sterilant. I wouldn't get the gov involved. It's about like if somebody got the EPA involved on your farm. Kinda doubt if you would like that too good. How big is the area involved?
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Senior Advisor

Re: Oil Spill

Bug, I don't know how big the area is.  It was already dark when I was notified tonight.  As far as what was spilled, I'm betting it was a mixture of crude and salt water.  They told me the lead line sprung a leak so I'm sure it is a blend.

 

Would really like to see the contamination completely removed, but I guess I won't get to wound up until I see the extent of the damage.  This isn't the first time this producer and I have butted heads, he owed me for some damages a few years ago and tried to cover up his mistake.  I was young at the time and didn't really hold him under the gun.  This isn't going to turn into a "Fool Me Twice" occurrence.

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Advisor

Re: Oil Spill

make sure your not breaking the law by not informing the authorities.

It is likely up to your landlord to notify the EPA and not yours. But this could affect your ability to receive compensation. Also, if the landlord sells and withholds spill information, he could (potentially) be sold after the sale (i.e. one of those wordy clauses that sounds like "free and clear of hindrance" in the bill of sale). Talk to your attorney.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Oil Spill

Shaggy --- this is pretty much cut and dried here -- IT'S NOT YOUR PROBLEM  , fill in your landlord and turn it over to him , he own's the ground , it's his call .  That may sound like chicken chit way to do it but it taakes YOU out of the loop .

I don't  have any idea  what the laws are on this subject , but am pretty sure that the soil , that is to be replaced we have  to go to a special land fill or dump .

By the landlord makeing the call there  is NO he said she said down the road , you don't want any hard feeling's or a chance of loseing the ground . Also what if he wants to sell it some day ? and the company did not do the right type of clean up ? you don't want to be pulled in to that game down the road .

 

The way things are today - better safe than sorry !  

 

 

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Senior Advisor

Re: Oil Spill

I was afraid you guys were going to bring the landlord into the equation.  She is 86 years old and lives about 2000 miles away.  I'm afraid they would take advantage of her.  She has always asked me to represent her on any issue that had to deal with her land.  Maybe I should at least call her after I view the spill and explain things to her.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Oil Spill

Kaye pretty wel sumed it up - the genie is out of the bottle --- good luck  

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