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USTs (Underground Storage Tanks)

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.
January 27th, 2016

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Spotlight: File Review

One of the major changes to the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment ASTM standard during the recent revision (E1527-13) is the enhanced requirement to conduct file reviews of government records. This requirement can uncover environmental concerns documented by old building permits, wrecking permits, tank permits, and fire records.

Because this file review can add extra time – and expenses – to a Phase I, not all consultants include this research as part of their standard assessment.  Skipping this part of the due diligence process may result in missing important information, as illustrated by the case study below.

Sometimes municipalities have digitized these older records and can make them available via PDFs.  Other times, we are required to review records in person either on paper files or on microfiche.

Key records we’re looking for include:

  • Fuel or heating oil tank installation/removal
  • Previous uses of the building (eg: rug cleaner; tool & die shop)
  • Fire inspection records regarding storage and usage of hazardous materials
  • Violations caused by environmental concerns (eg: hazardous waste disposal or storage)
  • Permits to upgrade HVAC system which may indicate past use of heating oil

Case Study

Gabriel was conducting a Phase I in a Chicago suburb. This municipality made some of its old permit records available via PDF,

building permit - fuel tank2

“Fuel Tank” highlighted in red on this building permit application from 1957

including old building permits.  On the building permit to the right, we discovered “Fuel Tank” listed on this original application from 1957.  No indication of size or location was provided.

Gabriel then conducted an in-person review of the remaining records the village stored only on microfiche.  On many Fire Department inspection records from 1959-1970s, the heating system is identified as oil-forced air.  There is no documentation found for when the building switched to the current natural gas fueled unit heaters.

Due to the file review of these government records, Gabriel concluded that fuel oil had been used as the heating source at the site for many years, and that an underground fuel oil tank may still exist on site.

No USTs were registered at the site and no visual indications of a UST were found during the site inspection.  Therefore, without this file review, this Recognized Environmental Condition (REC) may have been missed.

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

November 4th, 2015

Contaminated site becomes new helicopter airport in Chicago

On the near west side of Chicago, an abandoned contaminated property has recently been cleaned up and put into progressive reuse as Vertiport Chicago, a helicopter airport.  Previous uses of the svertiport chicagoite included a garage (with two USTs), dry cleaner, and transportation company (with two USTs). The property had been vacant since at least 2005 and was overgrown with weeds.  Illegal dumping had occurred on the northeastern and eastern parts of the land.  Extensive subsurface investigation work found that the site was contaminated with lead, arsenic, and PNAs (Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons).

The airport developer worked with their environmental consultant and the Illinois EPA to determine a cost-effective solution to this contamination.  Instead of requiring the expensive removal of this contaminated soil, IEPA agreed to an industrial/commercial use restriction and a groundwater use restriction.  In addition, the property owner must maintain engineered barriers across the site including a concrete building foundation, a concrete parking lot, concrete vertiport, and alternative engineered barriers with new clean topsoil in the landscaped areas and the detention basin.

Vertiport Chicago has been operating since May 2015.  Its clients include emergency medical services helicopters for the nearby medical district who are able to land without landing fees, as well as more profitable clients such as DHL and corporate CEOs who ferry in documents and executive staff from O’Hare to downtown in a matter of minutes – no matter what the traffic is on the Kennedy Expressway.

www.vertiportchicago.com

October 1st, 2015

Midwest Environmental Compliance Conference

MECC-rotate-gif

 

The first annual Midwest Environmental Compliance Conference (MECC) will be held October 29-30th at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare and will focus on EPA’s Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and 35 tribes).

MECC events are hosted by state business and manufacturing associations and supported by U.S. EPA and State Agencies. These Midwestern environmental conferences:

  • Provide an insider perspective on key regional issues
  • Offer valuable, up-to-date information on rapidly-changing areas of regulation and law
  • Create a forum for valuable networking with regulators, clients and potential clients/customers
  • Foster meaningful, professional conversation with federal, state and local regulators
  • Deliver great speakers and thought leaders with unique insights, real experience, and a seasoned perspective
  • Provide an environmental “boot camp” training opportunity for those relatively new to environmental compliance and permitting or new to a particular environmental medium

 

Chicago’s conference will include sessions featuring administrators from U.S. EPA and state environmental agencies, including Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR).

Some of the conference sessions will discuss:

  • U.S. EPA Regional Priorities
  • Emerging Water Issues
  • Hot Topics in Remediation and Waste Materials Management
  • Regional Air Issues Roundtable
  • Compliance Auditing

More information, the conference schedule, and registration can be found at mecconference.com.

September 16th, 2015

EPA issues new UST regulations for the first time in more than 25 years

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated its underground storage tank (UST) regulations for the first time since 1988.epa_logo2

Changes include:

  • Adding secondary containment requirements for new and replaced tanks and piping
  • Adding operator training requirements
  • Adding periodic operation and maintenance requirements for UST systems
  • Adding requirements to ensure UST system compatibility before storing certain biofuel blends
  • Removing past deferrals for emergency generator tanks, airport hydrant systems, and field-constructed tanks
  • Updating codes of practice
  • Making editorial and technical corrections

These changes will be effective October 13, 2015.

EPA estimates that these updated regulations will result in fewer releases of petroleum into the surrounding soil and groundwater, leading to savings for UST owners for avoiding environmental remediation, vapor investigation, and product loss.  Overall, after taking the costs for compliance into account, EPA estimates the net cost savings to UST owners across the U.S. to be more than $160 million annually.

Since the State of Illinois is not part of the EPA’s SPA (State Program Approval), UST owners in Illinois must meet the federal requirements in addition to the Illinois requirements.

In Illinois, the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) regulates USTs.  According to the Division of Petroleum & Chemical Safety, Illinois has already implemented many of these requirements with the 2010 rewrite of tank regulations and 2012 Part 176 Subpart F Operator Training addition.

Some of the bigger changes in Illinois will be:

  • 30-day walk through inspections instead of the current quarterly inspections
  • 3-year containment testing for sumps and spill buckets
  • 3-year inspection of overfill equipment
  • Elimination of ball float valves in vent lines as flow restriction devices for new tanks

Most of these changes above have a 3 year implementation requirement, so Illinois will update its rules by 10/13/18 to include these revisions.  The ball float valve elimination is effective 10/13/15, but only for new tanks.  Existing devices may remain as long as they are working.

“For the most part, there will be little if any noticeable adjustment needed to be made by retailers in the short term,” said Fred M. Schneller, Division Manager of Petroleum & Chemical Safety.  OSFM continues to review the new regulations and will issue guidance to tank owners/operators in the coming months.

For more information on the EPA’s changes, visit the EPA’s “2015 Revised Underground Storage Tank Regulations” website.

If you have questions about the implementation of these regulations in Illinois, phone/email contact information for the Office of the State Fire Marshal can be found on their website.

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

July 15th, 2015

Wisconsin abruptly ends cleanup funding via PECFA

wisconsin dnrWisconsin’s 2015-2017 budget will not include any funding for the state’s tank clean-up fund, Governor Scott Walker surprisingly announced on Sunday.  The budget sent to him by the Wisconsin Senate included a planned sunset of the Petroleum Environmental Cleanup Fund Award (PECFA) reimbursement program to releases reported prior to July 1, 2017 and claims received prior to July 1, 2020.

Gov. Walker’s line-item veto, however, abruptly sped up the end of the cleanup program.  Any tank owner with a current PECFA project must submit their reimbursement claim for their clean-up expenses by July 20, 2015 – a mere 8 days after the budget was signed into law.  “The program has existed for a sufficient time that its primary purpose has been completed,” stated Gov. Walker.

PECFA was created in the late 1980s to help pay for the clean-up of contamination caused by leaking underground storage tanks (USTs) and aboveground storage tanks (ASTs).  It is funded by a tax added to all petroleum products sold.  It is unclear at this time what will happen to the remaining money in the PECFA fund once the final reimbursement claims are paid.

Any Wisconsin tank owner who has a release in the future will no longer be able to seek assistance from the State to handle the contamination.  The environmental clean up requirements remain in place.   This sudden end of the PECFA fund will hurt individuals and small business owners who lack the resources to respond adequately on their own to a leaking tank.

Over its 25+ year history, PECFA provided more than $1.5 billion in funding to help clean up more than 16,000 sites.  As of September 2014, there were still more than 1,000 clean-ups in process throughout Wisconsin according to U.S. EPA data.  Additionally, there are nearly 73,000 known tanks in use or temporarily out of service in the state – and possibly as many as 200,000 additional unregistered tanks.

Gov. Scott Walker’s budget message, veto summary

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.