Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is an Underground Storage Tank (UST) System?
    The definition of an UST, as set forth in N.J.A.C. 7:14B-1.6: is any one or combination of tanks, as set forth in N.J.A.C. 7:14B-1.4, including appurtenant pipes, lines, fixtures, and other related equipment, used to contain an accumulation of hazardous substances, the volume of which, including the volume of the appurtenant pipes, lines, fixtures and other related equipment, is 10 percent or more beneath the surface of the ground. A 'Tank' is a stationary device designed to contain an accumulation of hazardous substance which is constructed of non-earthen materials (for example, concrete, steel, plastic) that provide structural support.
  • Is my heating oil UST regulated?
    Heating oil USTs with an aggregate capacity of 2,000 gallons or less are exempt from the UST regulations.
    Heating oil USTs of any size, used exclusively to heat residential buildings, are exempt from the UST regulations.
  • Do I have to be certified to do UST work?
    Yes, all persons who provide services on underground storage tank systems (USTs) which are regulated pursuant to P.L. 1986 c.102 must be certified by the Department of Environmental Protection in a particular classification or classifications or perform the services while under the immediate on-site supervision of a person certified in that classification. All certified individuals may only perform these activities while working for a firm certified in the same classification(s). The classifications of certification are Installation (Entire System or Release Detection Monitoring Systems), Closure, Tank Testing, Corrosion Protection System Analyst (Cathodic Protection Tester or Cathodic Protection Specialist) and Subsurface Evaluation.
  • Who do I call if my UST is leaking?
    If a release occurs from an underground storage tank, you are required to notify the DEP 24-hour hotline at 609/292-7172.
  • What are the responsibilities of an UST Owner or Operator?
    All federally regulated USTs must:
    • Be registered with the appropriate regulatory authority, and
    • Meet leak detection requirements
    In addition owners and operators must: UST owners and operators need to contact their state or local agency that implements the UST program to receive specific information on requirements for their tanks. If the tanks are located in Indian Country, then you should contact the EPA Regional Office.
  • What records must I keep?
    You will have to keep records that can be provided to an inspector during an on-site visit that prove your facility meets certain requirements. These records must be kept long enough to show your facility's recent compliance status in the major areas listed below. You should check with your state or local regulatory authority about the particular recordkeeping requirements in your area.
    • You will have to keep records of leak detection performance and maintenance:
      • The last year's monitoring results, and the most recent tightness test.
      • Copies of performance claims provided by leak detection manufacturers.
      • Records of recent maintenance, repair, and calibration of on-site leak detection equipment.
    • You will have to keep records showing the required inspections and tests of your corrosion protection system.
    • You must keep records showing that a repaired or upgraded UST system was properly repaired or upgraded.
    • For at least 3 years after closing an UST, you must keep records of the site assessment results required for permanent closure. (These results show what impact your UST has had on the surrounding area.)
    • You must keep records that document your financial responsibility, as explained in EPA's booklet, Dollars And Sense.
  • How can I tell if a release has occurred?
    Various warning signals can indicate that your underground storage tank (UST) may be leaking and creating problems for the environment and your business. You can minimize these problems by paying careful attention to early warning signals and reacting to them quickly before major problems develop.

    You should suspect a leak when you discover any of the following warning signals:
    • You, your coworkers, or customers smell escaped product or see anything like an oily sheen on water near the facility.
    • Your neighbors complain of vapors in their basements or about water that tastes or smells like petroleum.
    • Someone reports unusual operating conditions at your facility, such as erratic behavior of the dispensing pump.
    • You receive or generate results from leak detection monitoring and testing that indicate a leak.
  • Are Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs) a way to avoid regulation?
    No. But, some underground storage tank (UST) owners or operators mistakenly think they can avoid environmental and safety requirements by changing to aboveground storage tanks (ASTs). However, ASTs are subject to both federal regulations and state/local regulations. Before choosing an AST option, UST owners and operators should keep the following in mind:
    • Replacing an existing UST with an AST still requires closing the existing UST properly - proper closure includes notifying your regulatory authority at least 30 days before you close your UST, conducting any necessary site assessment and remedial action, having the tank emptied and cleaned safely, and either removing the tank or leaving it buried but filled with an inactive solid, such as sand.
    • Most ASTs need to meet U.S. EPA's Spill, Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) requirements (40 CFR, Part 112). For more information on SPCC requirements call EPA's Hotline at 800-424-9346.
    • ASTs can increase the risk of fire and hazards resulting from damage caused by vehicles or vandals. AST owners should install AST systems that have adequate safeguards against fire, overfills, and damage.
    • At a minimum, most ASTs need to meet state and local fire codes, which usually have some mix of construction, installation, operation and maintenance requirements that are intended to prevent fires and other hazards that can come from mismanaged or substandard ASTs. For more information, check with your local authority having jurisdiction, such as your local fire marshal.
    • Some ASTs may need to meet additional state or local regulatory requirements that safeguard human health and the environment from potential threats posed by ASTs. You should check with your state agency in charge of oil pollution control activities for information on state and local requirements.
  • Can I test my Underground Storage Tank (UST) for leaks instead of digging it up?
    Testing Underground Storage tanks can be done, but they do not always provide accurate information. The most common tests are pressure testing and subsurface investigation.

    Pressure testing requires filling the tank with air and monitoring the pressure loss. However, this technique can also do damage to the tank because it puts stress on the structure of the tank that may already be weakened. Subsurface investigation requires drilling or coring into the soil around the tank and obtaining samples which are analyzed for signs of a release of petroleum products. Subsurface investigation is effective for determining what state the soil is currently in, but cannot determine the condition of the tank. It is important to consider that tests can not predict the future of your tank. It may be more cost effective to simply have the tank removed
  • How can I tell if my Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) is leaking?
    If the tank is old, oil stains may be visible on the underbelly of the tank. These stains may be caused by loose fittings or over filling the tank. If there is oil visible on the floor, be sure to check the tank itself for leaks, especially following an oil delivery. Many people have tried to repair or patch leaking tanks in order to avoid the cost of removing or replacing them. Unfortunately a leak is a sign that the tank has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced before major problems develop.
  • Why should I consider removing my Underground Storage Tank (UST)?
    Many underground home heating tanks have outlived their advantages and have turned into a liability for their owners. These bare steel tanks were not designed to be buried and, if left in place, will eventually rust and leak. These tanks were never meant to last forever and approximately 50% of bare steel tanks are estimated to develop leaks within 15 years, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

    Even larger tanks, that were specifically designed for underground use can leak if they do not have adequate corrosion protection. If your home heating oil storage tank leaks, it can be very unfortunate for the environment, as well as the home owner. Leaking petroleum products contaminate the groundwater. Toxic ingredients such as benzene, toluene or xylene threaten human health by poisoning the environment.

    Even small, slow leaks can pose serious threats if they go undiscovered for a long period of time. The tank owner is responsible for any damage done to someone else's drinking water supply and/or for the costly cleanup and removal of contaminated soil. In addition, banks increasingly require the removal of any underground storage tanks prior to approving a home mortgage.

    Therefore, as a home owner trying to sell your property you will be faced with a potentially costly situation when you go to sell your home. Having your underground storage tank removed now can save you both money and anguish.
  • What is involved in the removal a UST?
    The first step for a property owner in removing a storage tank is to contact a licensed and certified tank removal specialist.

    It is important to hire a company with experienced professionals that are properly equipped to handle the job. An inspection of the property is performed prior to the removal of the UST, in order to determine what is needed to prepare the site. If necessary, permits are obtained from the local fire and building departments to determine the property is dig safe and then utilities are marked by the respective companies to ensure safe excavating. Underground storage tanks are typically uncovered and removed using excavation equipment. The tanks are pumped out, cut, and cleaned on site and transported to a licensed tank yard for disposal. The remaining sludge is transported to a waste facility for disposal. Clean fill is then installed in the tank grave to grade.
  • What happens to the oil after my tank is removed?
    The #2 fuel oil that is removed from your tank is transported to a licensed recycling facility. The recycling facility will blend it with #6 fuel so it can be used for commercial purposes