Ask the Lawyer

Civic Law


Q: Recently, I noticed a foul smell coming from my front yard and realized there was a large oil spill. I’ve called both my town and my insurance company to find out how I can resolve the messy situation, but have gotten the run around. I believe the spill might be harmful to the environment, my pets and our family and would like to know who if anyone I should contact for clean-up and if I am liable for the costs.

 A:  We can’t give you particular legal advice for your situation.  However, as a general rule everyone is responsible for their own property, and it may turn out that there also are others who may be responsible. Without information as to how the spill ended up in your front yard, the question as to who else might be responsible for the cleanup or costs is not easily answered.  All oil spills and other environmental or natural resource problems should be reported to the Long Island Regional Office of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation located in Stony Brook. The hotline number for spills (both oil and chemical) is (800) 457-7362, and they should be able to provide you with further assistance.

A. Thomas Levin is a Member of the law firm of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein P.C. located in Garden City, Long Island, N.Y. and Chair of the firm's Municipal Law, Land Use and Environmental Compliance practice and the Professional Responsibility practice. Mr. Levin represents public and private sector clients in the fields of local government law, land use regulation, commercial litigation and matters relating to professional responsibility, ethics and disciplinary proceedings.

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