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Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUST)

April 26th, 2017

IEPA Website Causes UST Fund Deductible Confusion

IMG_0260
Underground Storage Tank (UST) owners may be confused by the Illinois EPA’s (IEPA’s) website, which hasn’t been updated with current information regarding the UST Fund deductible.

In June 2010, IEPA lowered the deductible for all new eligible Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Incidents to $5,000. Prior to that change, deductibles range from $10,000 to $100,000 depending on the number of tanks and date of registration.

The Illinois EPA’s online UST Fund Guide correctly lists these deductibles, but the new $5,000 deductible for all LUST Incidents after June 2010 is hidden on a different fact page that is difficult to find on the new IEPA website (Leaking USTS – Publications & Regs – Public Act 096-0908 – Fact Sheet 3).

$5,000 Deductible Applies to All Incidents
Declared After June 8, 2010

The confusion about eligibility and high deductibles for some sites deterred many tank owners from cleaning up their LUST Incident and obtaining a No Further Remediation (NFR) letter from IEPA.  As a result, Illinois streamlined their deductible qualifications and reduced it to a more manageable $5,000.This change states that no matter what date an eligible petroleum tank was registered, any LUST Incidents declared after June 8, 2010 are subject to a $5,000 deductible.

Eligible tanks include releases of:

  • Fuel as defined in Section 1.19 of the Motor Fuel Tax Law
  • Aviation Fuel
  • Heating oil
  • Kerosene
  • Used oil that has been refined from crude oil used in a motor vehicle, as defined in Section 1.3 of the Motor Fuel Tax Law.
Other eligibility requirements do apply, as outlined on the EPA’s Tank Fund Guide website. For example, any tanks out of service prior to January 1, 1974 or residential heating oil tanks are not eligible for the Fund.

The UST Fund is available to help owners and operators clean up spills related to leaking tanks. It is funded by these same owner/operators as a per-gallon tax on all petroleum products purchased.
For more information about how to close a LUST Incident and access the UST Fund, contact Nancy Valenta at 773-486-2123 or nvalenta[at]gabenv.com.
July 21st, 2016

Illinois UST cleanup fund authorized in state budget

Cleanup funds are again available to help tank owners in Illinois investigate and cleanup contamination caused by leaking USTs (underground storage tanks)

The Illinois budget impasse had frozen the UST Fund since July 1, 2015.  Tank owners andIMG_0260 operators pay into this Fund with every gallon of petroleum product they purchase.  The Fund is then available to help investigate and cleanup any leaks or spills from these underground storage tanks.

Tank owners had continued to pay into this Fund while Illinois lawmakers failed to agree on a state budget, but the Illinois Comptroller lacked authority to issue checks from the Fund without a state budget.

The Illinois stopgap budget passed on June 30th re-authorizes payments from this cleanup fund to be issued, clearing the way for the Comptroller to send over $20 million to tank owners for currently approved reimbursement claims.  Cleanups in process should also have access to this fund, since the budget authorizes up to $60 million to be issued from the UST Fund.

If you have any questions about the UST Fund or the cleanup process, contact Nancy Valenta at 773-617-1046 or nvalenta{at}gabenv.com.

March 23rd, 2016

Five Steps to Obtaining a No Further Remediation (NFR) Letter after a Tank Leaks

If you’re interested in purchasing a property with a Leaking IEPA-logoUnderground Storage Tank (LUST) Incident, or you currently own a property with an open LUST Incident, the steps for satisfying the Illinois EPA (IEPA) to officially close your site may be confusing.

The goal of the LUST program is to obtain a No Further Remediation (NFR) Letter from the IEPA, which signifies that this leaking tank is no longer a threat to health or the environment. If you’re purchasing or refinancing your property, most lenders will require this NFR letter to satisfy their environmental due diligence requirements.

IEPA lays out the five steps to follow to obtain this NFR Letter:

  • Early Action:  Within 45 days of a LUST Incident being declared, the owner must take action to prevent any additional leaking from the UST.  This may involve pumping out the tank, removing the UST, or properly abandoning the UST.   The owner must also characterize the initial extent of any contamination through soil sampling, either via excavation samples (if removing the UST) or soil borings (if UST will remain in place, either operating or abandoned).
  • Stage 1 Site Investigation: If contamination above IEPA limits exists, IEPA then requires soil sampling around the UST, plus groundwater sampling if groundwater is encountered.
  • Stage 2 Site Investigation:  If contamination is discovered during the initial Stage 1 analysis, IEPA requires additional on-site soil and/or groundwater sampling to determine the extent of the contamination.  Soil gas sampling for potential vapor intrusion may also be required.  Stage 2 may involve several rounds of sampling, depending on the size of the property and spread of contamination.
  • Stage 3 Site Investigation:  If contamination exists at the site boundary, IEPA also requires off-site sampling to determine if the contamination has migrated onto nearby properties.
  • Corrective Action: Depending on the extent of contamination discovered during the Site Investigation stages, IEPA may require various Corrective Action strategies, including:
    • If vapor intrusion exists, installation of Building Control Technology (BCT)
    • Site use restrictions
    • Engineered barriers
    • Groundwater use restrictions
    • UST removal
    • Contaminated soil removal
Due to Illinois’ risk-based TACO regulations, most LUST Incidents can obtain an NFR Letter without active remediation.
If you have questions about how Gabriel can help you close your LUST Incident and obtain an NFR Letter, contact Nancy Valenta at 773-486-2123 or nvalenta[at]gabenv.com.
July 29th, 2015

OSFM fines owner record $610,000 for UST violations

Failure to follow underground storage tank (UST) regulations can be osfmcostly, as a gas station owner in Silvis, IL recently discovered.

Baldev Singh was fined $610,000 for multiple violations by the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM). This judgment is the largest ever awarded to the OSFM against an individual owner of a UST facility.

The Rock Island County Circuit Court issued a Default Judgment Order on July 14, 2015 after Mr. Singh failed to appear to defend himself against the lawsuit filed by OSFM.

The ‘Jack and Jill’ gas station ceased operations sometime in late 2011.  OSFM first issued a notice of violation in 2012 for regulatory deficiencies regarding the two USTs.  Then in 2013, OSFM ordered the remaining gasoline from its tanks to be emptied and the USTs to be upgraded or removed.  When Mr. Singh did not comply with either notice of violation, OSFM filed a lawsuit against him in May 2014.

“Gasoline tanks left unattended with remaining fuel pose a significant risk to the public,” said Deputy Director Les Albert. “The Office of the State Fire Marshal remains vigilant in its mission to ensure the protection of lives and property.”

In a separate case, OSFM was also recently awarded a $365,000 judgment against another UST owner who did not properly remove their out-of-service USTs in Oakwood, IL.

The State of Illinois has been cracking down on UST violations.  If your facility receives a notice of violation from OSFM, do not ignore it.  Failure to address the violations can result in significant fines and penalties.  While the cases above are among the higher fines assessed, OSFM is more routinely penalizing UST owners $50,000 – $100,000, plus the cost to correct the violations.

If you need assistance with your UST violations, contact Nancy Valenta at nvalenta[at]gabenv.com or 773-486-2123.

http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=55&RecNum=13189

http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=55&RecNum=13127

May 19th, 2015

It’s TACO Tuesday!

All cleanup programs in the state of Illinois are based on TACO limits, but not everyone knows exactly what TACO IEPA-logomeans – or why it makes cleaning up your property easier.

TACO is an acronym for “Tiered Approach to Corrective Action Objectives.”  Prior to the implementation of TACO standards in the mid-1990s, the Illinois EPA (IEPA) took a “one size fits all” approach to cleaning up contaminated properties.  All sites, regardless of their location, use, contaminants, etc., had to be cleaned up to the same standards.

This regulatory climate changed as cleanup programs across the U.S. continued to mature.  Environmental agencies realized that cleaning up an industrial property that was only going to be used for a parking lot was a lot different than cleaning up a former gas station to become apartments.  Remediation objectives became risk-based and site-specific.

Today, TACO takes into account three main components to determine environmental risk:

  1. Contaminant(s) – ie: chemicals
  2. Exposure route(s) – eg: air, drinking water, etc.
  3. Receptor(s) – eg: people, plants, or animals

Through both the Site Remediation Program (SRP) and Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) program, environmental consultants such as Gabriel conduct a site investigation consisting of soil, groundwater and/or vapor testing.  Once these results are analyzed for each of the above components, the environmental consultant can work with the IEPA project managers to determine the best way to clean up the property.  The three most common risk management tools are:

  1. Active remediation – eg: contaminated soil removal; bioremediation; chemical remediation; etc.
  2. Engineered barriers – eg: asphalt parking lot, concrete floor, building control technologies (BCTs), etc.
  3. Institutional controls – eg: drinking water restriction, commercial/industrial use restriction, etc.

Once a property owner has satisfied the applicable program requirements and documented that the contaminants had either been reduced below TACO standards or controlled through engineered barriers or institutional controls, the IEPA will issue a No Further Remediation (NFR) Letter.

These TACO standards mean that you’ll often be able to clean up your property with less expense and hassle, which promotes progressive reuse of contaminated property.

If you have more questions about how the TACO regulations work, contact John Polich, P.E. at jpolich[at]gabenv.com or 773-486-2123.

May 7th, 2015

UST Fund Available to New Property Owners

Prior to 2006, any individual, partnership or corporation who bought a property in Illinois with an existing Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Incident would not be eligible to access the UST Fund to complete the clean-up of the site.  Only the original owner/operator of the tanks and Incident were eligible.

Effective January 1, 2006, however, Illinois EPA amended its rules to allow new property owners this same access to the UST Fund.  This rule change was intended to encourage redevelopment of brounderground storage tankwnfields and other potentially contaminated sites.

UST Fund

The State of Illinois maintains a UST Fund to help investigate and clean up eligible leaking tanks through the Illinois EPA’s LUST Program.  Tank owners finance this UST Fund with a $0.003 per-gallon motor fuel tax and an $0.008 per-gallon environmental impact fee.  Since its inception in 1989, this UST Fund has reimbursed tank owners more than $800 million in site investigation and clean-up costs.

Tank owners are assessed a deductible for each Incident ($5,000 / $10,000 / $15,000 / $50,000 / $100,000), depending on the date of tank registration and date of LUST Incident.  Most site investigation and clean-up costs above that amount should be eligible for reimbursement from the UST Fund if activities are conducted in accordance with plans and budgets approved by the Illinois EPA.

If you have questions about how to transfer UST Fund eligibility to a new owner, contact Nancy Valenta at 773-486-2123 or nvalenta[at]gabenv.com.

More information about this new owner eligibility can be found on the IEPA’s Public Act 94-0274 webpage.

More information about how Gabriel can help you with LUST closure can be found on our LUST Services webpage.

April 1st, 2015

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Spotlight: Government Records Review

During the course of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, Gabriel reviews government records from a variety of federal, state, local, and tribal agencies.  We will review all pertinent records available, including, but not limited to: underground storage tanks (USTs); hazardous materials stored, used or disposed; environmental violations; building permits; occupancy permits; fire inspection records; construction permits; demolition permits; and closure projects.

These records help us determine if hazardous substances or petroleum products are currently or were previously located on the site.

Case Study

Recently, Gabriel was conducting a Phase I ESA at an auto repair facility in Chicago.  The current owner/occupant did not have any knowledge of USTs on the property.  osfm

However, during a search of Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) records, it was discovered that three tanks were installed at the property between 1972 and 1979, prior to the current owner purchasing the property.  The previous owner had operated the property as a gas station in addition to the repair shop, so a diesel tank, gasoline tank and used oil tank had been installed.

None of these tanks had any record of removal, which means there is a strong likelihood that the tanks are still on site and possibly leaking due to their age and material.

If you have questions about how Gabriel uses government records reviews in our Phase I research, contact Natalie Neuman, Group Leader Assessment Services, at 773-486-2123 or nneuman[at]gabenv.com.

March 26th, 2015

When to conduct vapor sampling

When working to get a No Further Remediation (NFR) letter through the Illinois EPA’s Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) program, an investigation of three pathways of concern must be conducted: soil, groundwater, and vapor.  IEPA has required soil and groundwater evaluations for over 20 years, but they only recently started requiring vapor intrusion assessments.

Because vapor assessments are not required for all LUST Incidents, IEPA has published a flowchart to help determine when soil gas sampling is necessary:

lust-flowchart

Gabriel’s Project Managers work with the Illinois EPA’s LUST division to determine the appropriate sampling for each specific site, including if this indoor inhalation exposure route must be investigated.

The Site Remediation Program (SRP) also requires the investigation of vapor in certain circumstances, but because the contaminants of concern vary greatly within the SRP program, they don’t have a similar flowchart established.  Each site is addressed on a case-by-case basis.

If you have any questions about vapor assessments or a specific site, contact John Polich at 773-486-2123 or jpolich[at]gabenv.com.

August 6th, 2014

What the heck is a “CREC”?

When the new E1527-13 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment standard was released in late 2013, ASTM included a new term: CREC. ASTMlogo

A CREC is a Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition, a subset of the traditional REC. CREC was developed to address the controlled presence of potential hazardous substances or petroleum products, as defined by the local environmental regulatory agency.

CREC examples:

  • Site A had a Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) incident which was cleaned up to the satisfaction of the IEPA, with a land use restriction (eg: could only be used for commercial-industrial use). This would be considered a CREC since there are still hazardous substances and/or petroleum products present on the property, however the property has  been deemed safe for commercial or industrial use (though not residential use).
  • Site B was a former industrial operation that went through the Site Remediation Program (SRP) cleanup process. As part of the No Further Remediation (NFR) letter, the contaminated part of the property must remain capped by an engineered barrier. This would be considered a CREC since there are still hazardous substances present on the property, however they have been controlled by the engineered barrier.

Though the CREC is considered a REC, most CRECs would not be a major concern for a buyer or their lender. This language was developed to clarify situations such as these in order to give purchasers and lenders greater peace of mind about these sites.