Petroleum Cleanup Section FAQ

Program overview and applicable laws and rules

Cleanup Process-Confirmation, Investigation, Release Cleanup, Long-Term Monitoring

Resolving or Closing a Petroleum Tank Release

 

Program overview and applicable laws and rules

A1. I have a petroleum release from a tank; what do I do now? 

If the petroleum release is from a tank system, either an underground storage tank or an above-ground storage tank, you need to call one of the following numbers within 24-hours of detecting the leak: 

  • 1-800-457-0568 From 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday (DEQ)
  • 1-406-324-4777 After-hours and holidays (Disaster and Emergency Services)

If your petroleum release is from a tanker truck that is not connected to a UST or AST system, or any other source, call the DEQ Enforcement Division at (406) 444-0379. 

A2. Who is responsible for notifying the state of a petroleum release from a tank?

An owner/operator, any person who installs or removes an UST, or who performs subsurface investigations for the presence of regulated substances, and any person who performs a tank tightness or line tightness test must notify DEQ or the Disaster and Emergency Services officer available at the phone numbers listed in the response to A1 above. 

A3. What are the most common risks to human health, safety, and the environment at a typical petroleum tank release site? 

For a release regulated under the Montana Underground Storage Tank Act (75-11 Chapter 5, MCA) or the Petroleum Storage Tank statute (75-11 Chapter 3, MCA), the most common risks at petroleum release sites are from: 

  •  People potentially drinking contaminated water (either from a contaminated aquifer or permeation of a water pipe);
  • Human exposure to vapors migrating into buildings; and
  • Construction workers contacting petroleum-contaminated soil during excavation work. 

Other risks can include direct human contact with contaminated surface or subsurface soil and contaminated surface water (rivers and lakes) which may impact humans or the environment. For more information on potential risk, select the “Risk Assessment/Analysis” topic at http://deq.mt.gov/Land/StateSuperfund/FrequentlyAskedQuestions#riskAssessment.

 

Cleanup Process-Confirmation, Investigation, Release Cleanup, Long-Term Monitoring

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B1. How do I hire an environmental consultant?

The Petroleum Tank Cleanup section maintains a list of environmental consultants who you can hire to assist you with your petroleum tank release. Please refer to the following webpage for names of consulting firms, phone numbers, and advice for hiring a consultant http://deq.mt.gov/land/lust/consultantlist.

B2. Is there any financial assistance available?

Remedial efforts at petroleum tank releases that have been deemed eligible for reimbursement from the Petroleum Storage Tank Cleanup Fund are reimbursable. For more information, please visit the Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Board website at: http://deq.mt.gov/DEQAdmin/PET.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNRC) works with DEQ in granting cleanup funds to eligible sites with environmental issues and compelling benefits to the impacted communities. The specific grant program is called Reclamation and Development Grants program and for more information on the grants available through DNRC, please visit their website at: http://dnrc.mt.gov/divisions/cardd/resource-development/reclamation-and-development-grants-program.

DEQ and the US Environmental Protection Agency oversee Brownfields funding for investigation and cleanup to eligible petroleum release sites. For more information regarding the Montana DEQ Brownfields funding or a petroleum release’s potential eligibility for Brownfields, please visit: http://deq.mt.gov/Land/Brownfields.

 

Resolving or Closing a Petroleum Tank Release

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C1. What is required to close a petroleum release regulated by the Montana Underground Storage Tank Act (75-11 Chapter 5, MCA) or the Petroleum Storage Tank statute (75-11 Chapter 3, MCA)?

The term close or closure is synonymous with resolving the release in accordance with Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM 17.56.607(4)).

The technical guidance document for petroleum release closure provides a comprehensive look at closure requirements. Please use the following link to find the Site Closure Evaluation, Including Petroleum Mixing Zones technical guidance document: http://deq.mt.gov/Portals/112/Land/LUST/documents/TechGuidDocs/TGD_9.pdf.

C2. Does DEQ-7 contain all the chemicals found in gasoline and diesel?

No. Gasoline, diesel, and other refined petroleum products are made up of hundreds of chemicals. Only about a dozen or so of these chemicals have standards listed in DEQ-7. DEQ created and periodically updates its guidance document called Montana Tier 1 Risk Based Corrective Action Guidance for Petroleum Releases (also referred to as RBCA). In its RBCA document, DEQ has defined risk-based screening levels (RBSL) for soil and groundwater at petroleum release sites. For specific chemicals of concern, both DEQ-7 chemicals and those with calculated risk-based screening levels (RBSL), refer to the RBCA document at: http://deq.mt.gov/Land/lust/rbca.

C3. What cleanup levels do petroleum release regulated by the Montana Underground Storage Tank Act (75-11 Chapter 5, MCA) or the Petroleum Storage Tank statute (75-11 Chapter 3, MCA) have to meet?

The DEQ has developed a method published in Montana Tier 1 Risk-based Corrective Action Guidance for Petroleum Releases (RBCA) to address petroleum chemicals not listed in DEQ-7. RBCA identifies concentrations of petroleum chemicals called “risk-based screening levels” or “RBSL” to evaluate risks posed to human health and the environment. Petroleum releases cleaned up to levels below RBSL are determined to be protective of human health and the environment. RBCA has been incorporated by reference into Montana tank rules addressing site closure found at ARM 17.56.608.

C4. Can a petroleum tank release regulated by the Montana Underground Storage Tank Act (75-11 Chapter 5, MCA) or the Petroleum Storage Tank statute (75-11 Chapter 3, MCA) be closed when groundwater exceeds DEQ-7 standards or RBSL, and the contamination is not migrating beyond the property boundaries?

Maybe; all groundwater is state water even that located only under the facility that is the source of the release. DEQ considers all exposure routes and all receptors before making a determination if a petroleum release is ready for closure. If no receptor is exposed to groundwater contaminated by residual petroleum fractions that have only an RBSL, the petroleum tank release could close. However, if a specific chemical listed in DEQ-7 exceeds water quality standards (such as benzene), the release will remain open until the contamination is less than the standard or until petroleum mixing zone has been approved.

C5. What is a petroleum mixing zone closure?

A petroleum mixing zone closure is a category that a petroleum tank releases regulated by the Montana Underground Storage Tank Act (75-11 Chapter 5, MCA) or the Petroleum Storage Tank statute (75-11 Chapter 3, MCA) can be resolved or closed in situations where the groundwater continues to have petroleum chemicals that exceed DEQ-7 water quality standards. A petroleum mixing zone may be granted if the owner/operator demonstrates that the release has been cleaned up to the maximum extent practicable, the groundwater contamination plume is decreasing, and there are no other risk to receptors. A petroleum mixing zone closure will allow a petroleum tank release to be closed that has a groundwater plume that exceeds water quality standards.

The Petroleum Tank Cleanup uses a guidance document to explain a petroleum mixing zone closure and the requirements needed for a petroleum tank release to be considered for such a closure. Please see the Site Closure Evaluation, Including Petroleum Mixing Zones technical guidance document for a full description: http://deq.mt.gov/Portals/112/Land/LUST/documents/TechGuidDocs/TGD_9.pdf.

C6. What are the cleanup levels for soil?

DEQ does not have specific soil standards for petroleum contamination but has developed risk-based screening levels (RBSLs) for soil to evaluate risk to human health and the environment. Soil RBSLs are conservatively calculated to represent concentrations of the various chemicals that should not cause unacceptable risks to human health through direct contact (ingestion, inhalation and dermal contact) and will not leach into groundwater above DEQ-7 standards or groundwater RBSLs anywhere in Montana. Soil RBSLs are available for surface soil (less than two feet deep) and deeper soils and for both residential and commercial purposes. Soil RBSLs can be used as default cleanup levels for soil. DEQ may approve other methods to evaluate risks to human health, safety and the environment.