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June 20th, 2018

LUST Fund Reauthorized in FY2019 Budget

State of Illinois has continued funding the UST Trust Fund with its FY19 budget that taxes effect July 1, 2018. Illinois maintains this UST Fund to help investigate and clean up eligible leaking tanks through the Illinois EPA’s LUST program.

Tank owners are assessed a deductible for each Incident, depending on the date of the tank registration and date of the LUST Incident.  Most site investigation and cleanup 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 Illinois EPA.

New owners of properties with existing LUST Incidents may also be eligible to access the UST Fund, even if they were not the owner or operator of the leaking tanks.

If you have questions about how the UST Fund works or if your tank/site is eligible to access the UST Fund, contact Nancy Valenta at nvalenta{at}gabenv.com or 773-486-2123.

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.
May 15th, 2015

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Spotlight: Aerial Photographs

During the course of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, Gabriel reviews aerial photographs showing the site and surrounding area.  Depending on its location, aerial photographs can be available as far back as ~1930, with updates every 5-15 years.

These aerial photos can help us determine when the property was first developed, as well as any changes in the property use, building size, and surrounding area development.  Key items that can be seen on aerial photographs include:

  • Historical gas station
  • Aboveground storage tanks
  • Past use as farmland
  • Building additions
  • Illegal dumping
  • Presence of wetlands
  • Drum storage
  • Location of roads or railroad tracks/spurs
  • Quarries
  • Vegetation

Case Study

Gabriel was conducting a Phase I at a suburban location in the Chicagoland area.  While reviewing the aerial photos, we found that the site was undeveloped in 1949; by 1970 had been developed into a gas station; and by 1990 had been redeveloped into its current use as a strip mall.  This 1970 aerial photo was the key historical documentation which showed there may be petroleum products still present at this site, especially since no other documentation existed of UST removal or soil sampling.

1949 Aerial Photo - shows vacant land

1949 Aerial Photo – shows vacant land

aerial photo 1970 - cropped

1970 Aerial Photo – shows site developed as a gas station

aerial photo 1990 - cropped

1990 Aerial Photo – shows site redeveloped as a strip mall

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

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.