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Virginia DEQ - Home Heating Oil Tanks

Responding to discharges from small heating oil tanks heating oil AST image

DEQ does not regulate small heating oil tanks unless they are discovered to be leaking or discharging oil. Local county/city building and fire code officials can advise you on the proper way to locate, install, maintain and close out small heating oil tanks under the building/fire codes and local ordinances.

Generally, when an oil discharge is discovered it must be reported immediately to the relevant DEQ Regional Office. DEQ has revised the procedures for responding to discharges from small heating oil ASTs and USTs (aboveground and underground heating oil tanks having a capacity of 1,000-gallons or less).

Over the last several years, the number of reported leaking heating oil tanks has increased noticeably. Often these leaking heating oil tanks do not impact a receptor (e.g. drinking water well or stream) and have minimal impact on the environment. The revised procedures allow more flexibility in responding to small heating oil tank sites with a minimal impact on the environment. Refer to the Storage Tank Technical Manual for the complete procedures.

It is recommended that you review and use the checklist entitled “Homeowner's Monthly Tank Checklist.” This voluntary checklist is a comprehensive reference guide to help the tank owner become more aware of his fuel tank.

Evaluation of Impact from Home Heating Oil Tank Discharges

DEQ contracted with Virginia Tech to evaluate risks posed by petroleum constituents to private water supplies and surface water at home heating oil cases that had been closed by DEQ. A second study evaluated risks posed by vapor intrusion at home heating oil tank sites. Virginia Tech's report of findings and the DEQ documents based on the reports are linked below.

Virginia Tech Summary and Findings of Look-Back Study (October 2018)

DEQ Heating Oil Look-Back Study White Paper (February 2019)

Virginia Tech Petroleum Vapor Intrusion Final Report (January 2019)

DEQ Petroleum Vapor Intrusion Memo (February 2019)


Heating Oil Technical Workgroup

Supporting information for small oil tanks:

Home Heating Oil Tank Monthly checklist 

Aboveground & Underground Small Heating Oil Tank Fact Sheet 

Virginia Dept. of Housing & Community Development  State Building Code and Regulation: 2015 USBC,  2015 Statewide Fire Prevention Code (Effective 10-16-2018)

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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