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RULE §19.52Designation of Responsible Person; Advertising Claims

(a) The General Land Office (GLO) will conduct a preliminary investigation of the discharge. If the GLO determines that the unauthorized discharge has caused any damages compensable under OSPRA, the GLO will identify the person or persons who appear responsible for the discharge.

  (1) Upon a determination that damages compensable under OSPRA have resulted from an actual unauthorized discharge of oil or are likely to result from a threatened discharge, the GLO will immediately designate the responsible person. The GLO will make this determination based on the actual conditions observed at the site of the discharge or threatened discharge and will consider the following factors:

    (A) the quantity of oil discharged or potentially dischargeable;

    (B) the location and probable path of the discharge;

    (C) the proximity to real or personal property owned by a person other than the responsible party;

    (D) the natural resources likely to be affected;

    (E) any other circumstance or factor relevant to an assessment of the impact of the actual or threatened discharge.

  (2) The GLO shall give notice to the responsible person immediately upon a determination that damages have resulted or will result from the discharge. The notice will be in writing and may also be conveyed orally. The designation may be challenged within five days of the written notice. One or more persons or entities may be designated as persons responsible. The designation will be made by reviewing and assessing the following factors:

    (A) the owner, operator, or charterer of the vessel or facility from which the discharge emanates;

    (B) the person responsible for the discharge;

    (C) the apparent cause of the discharge;

    (D) whether or not any defense to liability is obviously applicable to the discharge;

    (E) any other relevant factor which comes to the attention of the GLO.

(b) Failure to challenge a proposed designation is not an admission of liability for the unauthorized discharge.

(c) A challenge to the proposed designation must be made within five days in writing, fully state the grounds for the challenge, and be filed with the GLO. If the proposed designation is challenged or the GLO is unable to make a designation for any other reason, the GLO shall advertise the manner in which claims for response costs and damages must be filed.

(d) If the proposed designation is not challenged within five days, the designated responsible person must inform the GLO of its intended advertising, claims, and payment procedures, including the name of any agent handling claims on the responsible person's behalf and the name of any underwriter for liability from the discharge. As a part of all claims procedures, the designated responsible person must inform all claimants of the availability of the state fund and the federal fund to pay claims.

(e) Claims advertisements by the GLO or designated responsible persons must be printed each day for one week, beginning no later than 14 days after completion of the designation process, in the newspaper of largest general circulation in the locality in which the unauthorized discharge occurred. The locality means the county and contiguous counties where real or personal property affected by the discharge is located. Advertisements must also be placed in designated newspapers of general circulation anywhere in the State of Texas when the commissioner so orders due to the impact of the discharge on natural resources and on persons economically reliant on the use of acquisition of the natural resources. Advertising requirements may also include radio and television announcements of claims procedures.

Source Note: The provisions of this §19.52 adopted to be effective February 21, 1992, 17 TexReg 1109; amended to be effective March 6, 1995, 20 TexReg 1261.

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