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updated: December 2009

 

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Regulated Underground Storage Tanks

Underground Storage Tanks (Home Heating Oil)

Monitoring Permitting

Regulated Underground Storage Tanks

 

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANKS?

Owners and operators are equally responsible for complying with all applicable UST regulations.

   

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WHAT IS AN OPERATOR?

An operator is one who is in control of, or has responsibility for, the daily operation of an UST system.

   

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WHICH UST SYSTEMS MUST COMPLY WITH THE REGULATIONS?

  • UST systems that store motor fuel (gasoline, kerosene, diesel, aviation fuel, etc.) for resale.
  • UST systems that contain motor fuel for business vehicles.
  • Farm or residential tanks that hold more than 1,100 gallons of motor fuel.

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HERE ARE SOME OTHER GENERAL REGULATIONS.

         Regulated UST systems must be registered, and annual-operating fees must be paid. Register your tanks using form UST-8.

                      Regulated USTs must have leak detection for the tanks and piping. All regulated tanks must be equipped with corrosion protection and spill/overfill prevention.

                      All commercial USTs and all regulated USTs must have an operating permit.

                      For a complete listing of the regulations visit the UST Web site at http://ust.enr.state.nc.us/

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WHAT SHOULD OWNERS AND/OR OPERATORS DO IF THEIR USTs ARE OUT OF COMPLIANCE?

  • Bring all tanks into compliance with the regulations, or
  • Permanently close them.
  • Owners/operators of non-compliant tanks may be penalized.

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HOW TO PERMANENTLY CLOSE YOU USTs:

  • Notify you regional office and submit form UST-3 thirty (30) days before you close the tanks. If the tanks are closed by a professional engineer or a licensed geologist, you may submit form UST-3 five (5) working days before closure.
  • Notify the local fire marshal?s office.
  • Thoroughly clean all tanks. Remove them from the ground or fill them with a solid, non-reactive material like sand or concrete.
  • Dispose of removed tanks properly. Ask you contractor about proper disposal. USTs are often cleaned and cut up for scrap metal. Qualified personnel should perform this dangerous work. Otherwise you may be held responsible for environmental damage.
  • Conduct a closure site assessment to check for leaks. Prepare your site assessment report using the UST-12 format. If a release is found, either a P.E. or L.G. must seal the report. If no release if found, no professional seal is required.
  • Submit the site assessment and form UST-2 to your regional office and ask for a copy of Guidelines for Tank Closure.

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IF CONTAMINATION IS DISCOVERED:

  • Report it to your regional office within 24 hours.
  • If the assessment shows contamination levels above acceptable levels, clean up is required.

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ARE FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR CONTAMINATION CLEANUPS?

 

Yes, the UST State Trust Fund assists owner, operators, and landowners to clean contaminated soils and groundwater at both commercial and non-commercial sites. If you discover a leak, submit a Trust Fund application to determine you eligibility for reimbursement.    

 

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Underground Storage Tanks (Home Heating Oil)

 1.    Q: What kind of regulations apply to my home heating oil tank?

A: Home heating oil tanks are exempt from the technical regulations that apply to other, regulated underground storage tanks (USTs). Even though home heating oil tanks are exempt from these technical regulations, some groundwater regulations will apply if there is a leak or spill from your tank.

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 2.    Q: What do I do with a home heating oil tank that is no longer used?

A: Home heating oil tanks are exempt from the closure requirements (closure of USTs means removing the contents, removing the tank from the ground or filling with a solid, inert material, such as sand, and analyzing soil samples for any possible contamination). Even though these closure requirements do not apply to home heating oil tanks, a tank owner is advised to empty a tank once it is no longer being used in order to limit the chances of release. Although it is not a requirement to remove old heating oil tanks, potential buyers are sometimes reluctant to purchase property with USTs; therefore removal may be a good idea in the interests of resale.

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  3.    Q: What do I do if I discover contamination?

A: If you discover signs of a leak, spill, or contamination, such as stains on the soil, strong petroleum odor, puddles of oil, etc. contact the Environmental Health Division of the Guilford County Department of Public Health immediately at (336) 641-3771.  If you are responsible for the contamination, the Health Department will provide you with the appropriate information as to how to proceed.

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 4.     Q: Who is responsible for cleanup of contamination?

A. Primarily, the statutory tank owner is responsible for cleaning up the contamination. Who the statutory tank owner is depends upon when the tank was last used. If the UST has been used on or after November 8, 1984, then the current landowner can be considered the statutory tank owner. If the UST was taken out of use before November 8, 1984, then the last person who used that UST is still considered the tank owner (even if they no longer own the property). For example, if you bought a house with a home heating oil tank on it and that tank has not been used since the 1970's, you would not be considered the statutory tank owner (unless you used that tank). However, if that tank was taken out of use in 1985 (or anytime after November 8, 1984), you would be considered the tank owner (even if you never used it).

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 5.    Q: If I am responsible for cleaning up contamination caused by a home heating oil tank, what do I do after I report the contamination?

A. First of all, soil samples need to be taken to determine how much contamination is present.  Groundwater samples may also need to be taken, especially if groundwater is close to the contaminated soil.  These samples must be analyzed by a qualified laboratory.  To ensure that the sampling is completed properly, a professional must be retained.  Depending upon the levels and extent of the contamination and depending upon geology, further assessment and cleanup may be necessary.  The Health Department staff can be helpful in determining what further steps are needed.

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 6.    Q: What kinds of companies do this sort of work?  

A. Many companies do environmental work.  Typically, they can be found in the yellow pages of a telephone book under ?Environmental Consultants?.  When choosing a company, we recommend getting several estimates and references.  Site assessments and cleanup work must be conducted under the responsible charge of a licensed geologist or professional engineer.

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 7.    Q: What are the requirements if the leak is from an aboveground home heating oil tank?

A. If a leak from an aboveground tank is discovered, it must be reported to the Health Department office immediately.  If cleanup is required, the Health Department will provide you with guidance about how to proceed.  Unfortunately, North Carolina?s cleanup fund does not cover releases from aboveground storage tanks.

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 8.    Q: How am I going to pay for this?

A. North Carolina has a cleanup fund for petroleum UST?s.  This fund will pay up to $1 million for reasonable and necessary costs directly related to the cleanup of a petroleum release from you UST.  The cleanup fund will not pay attorney fees, tank removal costs, or for excessive or unnecessary work.  In the case of home heating oil tanks, this fund is only available to landowners with deductible and ?statutory tank owner" without deductible.  At this time the Fund pays only through the limited site assessment.

This fund does not cover aboveground storage tanks.

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Monitoring Permitting

 1.    Q: When do I need a monitor or recovery well permit?

A: ALL monitor and/or recovery wells within Guilford County (onsite AND offsite wells) require permitting and payment prior to installation.  

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 2.    Q: Is the current fee for installing a monitor or recovery well different for commercial and noncommercial sites?

A: No. The current fees apply to all sites within Guilford County (commercial AND noncommercial), regardless of classification.  The existing fee schedule is $600 for the 1st well and $60 for each additional well thereafter. 

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 3.    Q: After the initial permit fee is submitted and the permit obtained, are there additional fees required?

A: Yes.  Each year, there is an annual renewal fee due which is equivalent to the full permit fee initially paid at the time of issuance.  The due date of the annual renewal fee will be based upon the date that the permit was issued.

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 4.    Q: How do I request an extension to pay?

A:   Simply call Janet Fonville at (336) 641-3772 and explain your situation.  An extension for the MW fee invoice date can generally be granted.  

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 5.    Q: How do I go about submitting info. to amend or modify an existing permit?   

A:  Simply submit your request on company letterhead for the additional wells you wish to install (over the initial number permitted) along w/ a check for the amendment fee ($60 for each additional well).          

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 6.    Q: What do I do if the number of monitor/recovery wells on the invoice do not match the number of wells onsite? 

A: Call Janet Fonville at (336) 641-3772 and explain your situation.  If any of the site wells have been destroyed or cannot be located, you must provide an explanation to our office in writing.  If you have properly abandoned any wells prior to receiving our invoice, you must provide us with the well abandonment records immediately so our database can be changed to accurately reflect the number of wells onsite.

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 7.    Q: Is there a fee to abandon a monitor or recovery well?

A:  No. The county does not require a fee to abandon monitor or recovery wells.  There IS a charge, however, to abandon supply wells.  To obtain information or fees relating to supply wells, please contact Guilford County Water Quality (Septic & Wells) at (336) 641-7613. 

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 8.     Q: Do I need to give Guilford County notification for monitoring well abandonment?

A:  No.  Simply fax or mail Guilford County Environmental Health copies of the records upon completion of the well abandonment activities.

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400 W. Market Street, Suite 300, Greensboro, NC 27401 | t :336. 641.7777 | f : 336.641.3730