Land Transactions

When a person buys property, they are buying responsibility for any existing contamination as well. LET THE BUYER BEWARE

Who does what with USTs at DEQ:

Non-regulated UST systems:

  • Farm or residential tanks (often, heating oil) for consumptive use on the property and
  • Less than 1,100 gallon capacity and
  • Installed before April 27, 1995

Even though these tanks are not regulated, any contamination they may have caused is regulated. LET THE BUYER BEWARE

Regulated UST systems:

  • Any commercial underground storage tank
  • Any farm or residential underground storage tank installed after April 27, 1995
  • Any underground piping attached to aboveground tanks

If the tanks are gone:

The possibility of contamination is the chief concern. If the USTs were registered with the department and properly closed, the UST section may have record of the tank removal and copies of the sampling results. If not, a Phase II site assessment conducted by an environmental consultant offers the best protection.

A site assessment is only as good as the sampling. If the contamination is found on the property, it won't matter what previous results indicated. The contamination will need to be cleaned up.

If the tank(s) are still there and are not operational:

If the property houses tanks that were not properly closed in place, the department will require the owner to pull them and sample for contamination.

Compliance with UST regulations should be considered when buying land. Yet the first concern remains "Is the ground or groundwater contaminated?" Compliance with closure requirements will not alter that ground truth.

If a release is discovered, compliance may impact access to Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Funds (PTRCF.) The UST section may be able to determine whether violations exist, but only the PTRCB can determine whether those violations impact eligibility.

In many cases, the UST section cannot determine from information in the file whether they regulate a tank system or whether it is in compliance. If the tank was not registered with the department or if use was discontinued before November of 1988, we may have no information about the tank at all.

When the department learns of a tank's existence we will require that it be permanently and properly closed and that the ground beneath it be sampled for contamination. The owner of the property will be responsible for cleaning up the contamination under the direction of the PRS. LET THE BUYER BEWARE

A found or non-notified tank is considered "active" until the owner asks the department in writing to place the system into inactive status. The owner then has 90 days to empty the tank and 12 months to permanently and properly close it. For more information about inactive status and the Inactive Status Form visit the Inactive Status page. PTRCB eligibility requires that an owner of a newly found tank submit a permit application to the UST section to pull the tank within 30 days of discovering it.

If the tank(s) are still there and operational:

The possibility of contamination should be considered. The owner of the property is responsible for cleaning up contamination regardless of who caused it and when. A Phase II site assessment conducted by an environmental consultant offers the best protection. LET THE BUYER BEWARE

Compliance issues at operational facilities are addressed through third-party Compliance Inspections and Operating Permits. Look to see when the Operating Permit expires on the following website, UST Facility Operating Permit Status.  For information about compliance inspections, visit our Compliance Inspection webpage. If the tank systems are inactive this webpage can tell you how to bring it back into active status.