Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter III. Strict Liability for Release of Hazardous Materials During Transport.


§ 8–1441. Definitions.

For the purposes of this subchapter, the term:

(1) “Carrier” means the person who owns the locomotive or motor vehicle, excluding the trailer or rail car, used in transporting any of the hazardous materials identified in § 8-1442.

(2) “Fund” means the Hazardous Materials Reimbursement Fund established by § 8-1447.

(3) “Motor vehicle” means any vehicle propelled by internal-combustion engine, electricity, or steam, other than a vehicle designed to run only on rails or tracks, that is intended or used for moving freight, merchandise, or other commercial loads or property. The term “motor vehicle” shall include any trailer attached to the motor vehicle.

(4) “Person” shall have the same meaning as in § 8-1302(5).

(5) “Rail car” means any vehicle without motor power that is intended or used for moving freight, merchandise, or other commercial loads or property on rails or tracks and is drawn by a locomotive.

(6) “Trailer” means a vehicle without motor power intended or used for carrying freight, merchandise, or other commercial loads or property and drawn or intended to be drawn by a motor vehicle, whether such vehicle without motor power carries the weight of the property wholly on its own structure or whether a part of such weight rests upon or is carried by a motor vehicle.

(7) “Transport” means movement by a rail car or motor vehicle.


(Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-262, § 301, 54 DCR 794.)


§ 8–1442. Strict liability for release of hazardous materials during transport.

Subject only to the exclusions and limitations set forth in §§ 8-1444 and 8-1445, and in addition to any other remedies available to the government of the District of Columbia, a carrier who transports into the District any of the hazardous materials listed in this section shall be strictly liable for all costs incurred by the District of Columbia in responding to a release or threatened release of any of the following within the geographic boundaries of the District of Columbia:

(1) Explosives of Class 1, Division 1.1, or Class 1, Division 1.2, as designated in 49 C.F.R. § 173.2, in a quantity greater than 500 kilograms;

(2) Flammable gasses of Class 2, Division 2.1, as designated in 49 C.F.R. § 173.2, in a quantity greater than 10,000 liters;

(3) Poisonous gasses of Class 2, Division 2.3, as designated in 49 C.F.R. § 173.2, in a quantity greater than 500 liters, and belonging to Hazard Zones A or B, as defined in 49 C.F.R. § 173.116;

(4) Poisonous materials, other than gasses, of Class 6, Division 6.1, in a quantity greater than 1,000 kilograms, and belonging to Hazard Zones A or B, as defined in 49 C.F.R. § 173.133;

(5) Infectious agents, assigned to risk group 4 in 49 C.F.R. § 173.134 unless the infectious agent is the subject of an exception identified in 49 C.F.R. § 173.134; and

(6) Radioactive materials in a concentration greater than that specified by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 10 C.F.R. § 30.70 (exempt concentrations), or in a quantity required to be labeled under 10 C.F.R. Part 30, Appendix B, or requiring the consideration of the need for an emergency plan for responding to a release under 10 C.F.R. § 30.72.


(Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-262, § 302, 54 DCR 794.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 8-1441, § 8-1443, § 8-1444, § 8-1445, § 8-1446, and § 8-1447.


§ 8–1443. Costs recoverable by the District of Columbia.

Costs recoverable by the District of Columbia under § 8-1442 shall include all costs related to:

(1) Containment of the gasses, explosives, and materials identified in § 8-1442;

(2) Necessary cleanup and restoration of the site and the surrounding environment;

(3) Removal of the gasses, explosives, and materials identified in § 8-1442;

(4) Such actions as may be necessary to monitor, assess, and evaluate the release or threat of release of any of the gasses, explosives, and materials identified in § 8-1442, or to mitigate damage to the public health or welfare that may otherwise result from a release or threat of a release;

(5) Natural resource damages;

(6) Attorney’s fees and costs;

(7) Reimbursement for private collection firm’s services, when used; and

(8) Applicable interest on all costs and expenses incurred.


(Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-262, § 303, 54 DCR 794.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 8-1444.


§ 8–1444. Civil action.

(a) The Attorney General of [for] the District of Columbia may institute an action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia against any person liable pursuant to § 8-1442 to recover all costs incurred by the District of Columbia.

(b) Notwithstanding the rights of the District of Columbia to institute an action as provided in subsection (a) of this section, any person who has expended funds to remedy environmental damage resulting from the release of any of the gasses, explosive, or materials identified in § 8-1442 may also bring an action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia against any person who may be liable for such damage pursuant to § 8-1442. Such person’s right to recover costs shall be limited to expenditures that are incurred for the purposes described in § 8-1443 and that are consistent with the laws and rules of the District of Columbia. A person’s right to recovery under this subsection shall not be barred by the fact that the party bringing the action is itself liable to the District of Columbia under this section.


(Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-262, § 304, 54 DCR 794.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 8-1442.


§ 8–1445. Defenses to liability.

There shall be no liability under § 8-1442 for a person otherwise liable who can establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the costs resulting from their acts or omissions were caused solely by:

(1) An act of God;

(2) An act of War;

(3) An act or omission of a third party other than an employee or agent of the defendant, or other than one whose act or omission occurs in connection with a contractual relationship, existing directly or indirectly, with the defendant, if the defendant establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant:

(A) Exercised due care with respect to the hazardous substance concerned, taking into consideration the characteristics of such hazardous substance, in light of all relevant facts and circumstances; and

(B) Took precautions against foreseeable acts or omissions of any such third party and the consequences that could foreseeably result from such acts or omissions; or

(4) Any combination of the foregoing paragraphs.


(Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-262, § 305, 54 DCR 794; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 157(d), 56 DCR 1117.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 8-1442.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-353 validated a previously made technical correction.


§ 8–1446. Punitive damages.

In addition to the damages authorized elsewhere in this subchapter, punitive damages may be awarded, if it is proved that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the defendant’s wanton or reckless disregard for public safety in the transportation of the gasses, explosives, and materials identified in § 8-1442.


(Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-262, § 306, 54 DCR 794.)


§ 8–1447. Establishment of Hazardous Materials Reimbursement Fund.

(a) There is established within the General Fund of the District of Columbia a segregated, nonlapsing fund to be known as the Hazardous Materials Reimbursement Fund. All funds as set forth in subsection (b) of this section shall be deposited into the Fund without regard to fiscal year limitation and shall not revert to the General Fund of the District of Columbia at the end of any fiscal year or at any other time, but shall be continually available for the uses and purposes set forth in subsection (c) of this section. The Fund shall be administered by the Mayor.

(b) The Chief Financial Officer shall deposit into the Fund all costs recovered by the District of Columbia pursuant to this subchapter.

(c) All funds deposited shall be available for use by the Mayor to reimburse District of Columbia agencies for costs incurred by the release or threatened release of the hazardous materials identified in § 8-1442.


(Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-262, § 307, 54 DCR 794.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 8-1441.