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Sabine Towing & Transp. Co. v. United States

Citation: 12 ELR 20176
No. No. 44-76, 666 F.2d 561/16 ERC 2081/(Ct. Cl., 12/16/1981)

The court dismisses a barge operator's claim for reimbursement of oil spill cleanup costs under § 311 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. Section 311(i)(1)(A) entitles a spiller to recover its cleanup costs from the government if the spill was caused "solely" by "an act of God." Relying on legislative history, the court holds that the statutory definition of "an act of God" as "an act occasioned by an unanticipated natural disaster" should be strictly construed. Since freshet conditions on the Hudson River which caused damage to plaintiff's vessel are regular and predictable events, they do not fall within the intended meaning of "an act of God" and plaintiff is not eligible for recovery of its cleanup costs.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Celestino Tesoriero
Grainger & Tesoriero
17 Battery Pl. N., New York NY 10004
(212) 619-3939

Counsel for Defendant
Thomas L. Jones; J. Paul McGrath, Ass't Attorney General
Civil Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 724-7242

Before FRIEDMAN, Chief Judge, KASHIWA and BENNETT, Judges.