2017 ORS 475.455¹
Liability of certain persons for cleanup costs

(1) The following persons shall be strictly liable for those cleanup costs incurred by the state or any other person that are attributable to or associated with an alleged illegal drug manufacturing site and for damages for injury to or destruction of any natural resources caused by chemicals at the site:

(a) Any owner or operator at or during the time of the acts or omissions that resulted in a site being created or damage to natural resources.

(b) Any owner or operator who became the owner or operator after the time of the acts or omissions that resulted in a site being created or damages, and who knew or reasonably should have known of the site or damages when the person first became the owner or operator.

(c) Any owner or operator who obtained actual knowledge of the site or damages during the time the person was the owner or operator of the site and then subsequently transferred ownership or operation of the site to another person without disclosing such knowledge.

(d) Any person who, by any acts or omissions, caused, contributed to or exacerbated the site or damage, unless the acts or omissions were in material compliance with applicable laws, standards, regulations, licenses or permits.

(e) Any person who unlawfully hinders or delays entry to, investigation of or cleanup action at a site.

(2) Except as provided in subsection (1)(b) to (e) of this section and subsection (4) of this section, the following persons shall not be liable for cleanup costs incurred by the state or any other person that are attributable to or associated with a site, or for damages for injury to or destruction of any natural resources caused by chemicals at the site:

(a) Any owner or operator who became the owner or operator after the time of the acts or omissions that resulted in the site being created or damages, and who did not know and reasonably should not have known of the damages when the person first became the owner or operator.

(b) Any owner or operator of property that was contaminated by the migration of chemicals from real property not owned or operated by the person.

(c) Any owner or operator at or during the time of the acts or omissions that resulted in the site or damages, if the site or damage at the site was caused solely by one or a combination of the following:

(A) An act of God. “Act of God” means an unanticipated grave natural disaster or other natural phenomenon of an exceptional, inevitable and irresistible character, the effects of which could not have been prevented or avoided by the exercise of due care or foresight.

(B) An act of war.

(C) Acts or omissions of a third party, other than an employee or agent of the person asserting this defense, or other than a person whose acts or omissions occur in connection with a contractual relationship, existing directly or indirectly, with the person asserting this defense. As used in this subparagraph, “contractual relationship” includes but is not limited to land contracts, deeds or other instruments transferring title or possession.

(3) Except as provided in subsection (1)(c) to (e) of this section or subsection (4) of this section, the following persons shall not be liable for cleanup costs incurred by the state or any other person that are attributable to or associated with an alleged illegal drug manufacturing site, or for damages for injury to or destruction of any natural resources caused by chemicals at the site:

(a) A unit of state or local government that acquired ownership or control of a site in the following ways:

(A) Involuntarily by virtue of its function as sovereign, including but not limited to escheat, bankruptcy, tax delinquency or abandonment; or

(B) Through the exercise of eminent domain authority by purchase or condemnation.

(b) A person who acquired a site by inheritance or bequest.

(4) Notwithstanding the exclusions from liability provided for specified persons in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, such persons shall be liable for cleanup costs incurred by the state or any other person that are attributable to or associated with a site, and for damages for injury to or destruction of any natural resources caused by chemicals at a site, to the extent that the person’s acts or omissions contribute to such costs or damages, if the person:

(a) Obtained actual knowledge of the chemicals at a site or damages and then failed to promptly notify the Department of Environmental Quality and exercise due care with respect to the chemicals concerned, taking into consideration the characteristics of the chemicals in light of all relevant facts and circumstances; or

(b) Failed to take reasonable precautions against the reasonably foreseeable acts or omissions of a third party and the reasonably foreseeable consequences of such acts or omissions.

(5)(a) No indemnification, hold harmless, or similar agreement or conveyance shall be effective to transfer from any person who may be liable under this section, to any other person, the liability imposed under this section. Nothing in this section shall bar any agreement to insure, hold harmless or indemnify a party to such agreement for any liability under this section.

(b) A person who is liable under this section shall not be barred from seeking contribution from any other person for liability under this section.

(c) Nothing in ORS 475.415 (Request for cleanup) to 475.455 (Liability of certain persons for cleanup costs), 475.475 (Department record of costs) and 475.485 (Costs and penalties as lien) shall bar a cause of action that a person liable under this section or a guarantor has or would have by reason of subrogation or otherwise against any person.

(d) Nothing in this section shall restrict any right that the state or any person might have under federal statute, common law or other state statute to recover cleanup costs or to seek any other relief related to the cleanup of an alleged illegal drug manufacturing site.

(6) To establish, for purposes of subsection (1)(b) of this section or subsection (2)(a) of this section, that the person did or did not have reason to know, the person must have undertaken, at the time of acquisition, all appropriate inquiry into the previous ownership and uses of the property consistent with good commercial or customary practice in an effort to minimize liability.

(7)(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection, no person shall be liable under ORS 475.415 (Request for cleanup) to 475.455 (Liability of certain persons for cleanup costs), 475.475 (Department record of costs) and 475.485 (Costs and penalties as lien) for costs or damages as a result of actions taken or omitted in the course of rendering care, assistance or advice in accordance with rules adopted by the Environmental Quality Commission or at the direction of the department or its authorized representative, with respect to an incident creating a danger to public health, safety, welfare or the environment as a result of any cleanup of a site. This paragraph shall not preclude liability for costs or damages as the result of negligence on the part of such person.

(b) No state or local government shall be liable under this section for costs or damages as a result of actions taken in response to an emergency created by the chemicals at or generated by or from a site owned by another person. This paragraph shall not preclude liability for costs or damages as a result of gross negligence or intentional misconduct by the state or local government. For the purpose of this paragraph, reckless, willful or wanton misconduct shall constitute gross negligence.

(c) This subsection shall not alter the liability of any person covered by subsection (1) of this section. [1987 c.699 §5]

Chapter 475

Law Review Cita­tions

51 OLR 561 (1972); 69 OLR 171 (1990)

1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 475—Controlled Substances; Illegal Drug Cleanup; Miscellaneous Drugs; Paraphernalia; Precursors, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ors475.­html (2017) (last ac­cessed Mar. 30, 2018).
 
2 Legislative Counsel Committee, Annotations to the Oregon Revised Stat­utes, Cumulative Supplement - 2017, Chapter 475, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ano475.­html (2017) (last ac­cessed Mar. 30, 2018).
 
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent.