Virginia DEQ - Reporting a Petroleum Release

What to Do in Case of a Release?

When a release occurs from an aboveground or underground storage tank, the owner and/or operator of the tank is required to report the release to DEQ and/or other governmental agencies. Release reporting requirements are dependent upon the statutes and regulation governing the tank from which the release occurred, the contents of the tank, and the nature of the release.

Suspected and Confirmed releases from USTs subject to the requirements of the UST Technical Regulation must be reported to DEQ within 24 hours of discovery of the release. Discharges of oil from sources other than tanks subject to the UST Technical Regulation (e.g. home heating oil tanks, above ground storage tanks, farm tanks) must be reported to DEQ immediately upon discovery of the discharge.

Releases must be reported to the appropriate DEQ Regional Office . For additional information about release reporting, please see Chapter 2 of the Storage Tank Program Technical Manual.


Suspected Releases

(Date Written: 3/21/11)

Highlights

  • Suspected releases must be reported to DEQ (immediately for ASTs and within 24 hours for regulated USTs).
  • DEQ must pre-approve all release investigation activities in order for the activities to be eligible for reimbursement.
  • Requests for site checks, tightness tests, etc., will be solicited by DEQ on a site specific basis.
  • It is the owner/operator's responsibility to ensure that costs for any investigative work are usual and customary (See the DEQ Volume IV - The Virginia Petroleum Storage Tank Fund Reimbursement Guidance Manual; 007 UCR Schedule).

Reasons for Suspecting a Release

  • Unusual UST operating conditions. Examples are:
    • Loss of product,
    • Water in the tank,
    • Product dispensing equipment does not dispense product or dispenses product at a greatly reduced rate,
    • An alarm is issued by an automatic line leak detector.
  • Monitoring results indicating that a release has occurred (unless the equipment was found to be defective, or if using inventory control or manual tank gauging, a second set of results show a release has not occurred). Examples are:
    • Vapors are observed in vapor monitoring wells,
    • Inventory control discrepancies indicated that a release may have occurred (a gain or loss of product >130 gallons + 1% of throughput),
    • Statistical inventory reconciliation indicates a release.
  • Statistical Inventory Reconciliation results from two consecutive months are inconclusive.

The conditions listed above are not observed and analytical results for any sample collected at the site is as follows:

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Confirmed Releases

(Date Written: 3/21/11)

Highlights:

  • Confirmed releases must be reported to DEQ (immediately for ASTs and unregulated USTs, and within 24 hours for regulated USTs).
  • DEQ must pre-approve all site investigation and corrective action activities on the Activity Authorization Form).
  • Corrective action requirements are site specific and risk-based.
  • It is the tank owner/operator's responsibility to ensure that costs for any investigative and corrective action work are usual and customary (See the DEQ Volume IV - The Virginia Petroleum Storage Tank Fund Reimbursement Guidance Manual; 007 UCR Schedule).

Information Used to Confirm a Release

The discovery of free product, contaminated soil, contaminated groundwater, or vapors in the vacinity of the UST or AST system, including off-site impacts (such as impacted drinking water well or sheen on a surface water body), indicate the presence of a release.  Additional indicators of a release are listed below:

For analytical results from samples collected during petroleum storage tank closure:

  • TPH - Soil:  Results greater than or equal to 100 mg/kg
  • TPH - Water:  Results greater than or equal to 1 mg/l
  • All other petroleum constituents:  Results greater than the detection limit for the constituent

For analytical results from samples collected at any time other than storage tank closure:

  • Any concentration of petroleum or a regulated substance that exceeds the detection limit for that substance.

For regulated USTs containing non-petroleum regulated substances:

  • Any analytical results for the substance stored in the tank exceed the detection limit for that substance.

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Reporting Requirements for Suspected and Confirmed Releases

The owner or operator of a storage tank must report a suspected release to DEQ when the conditions listed above in the section labeled 'Reason for Suspecting a Release' are met. Suspected releases must be reported to DEQ (immediately for ASTs and within 24 hours for regulated USTs).

The owner or operator of a storage tank must report a release to DEQ when the conditions listed above in the section labeled 'Information Used to Confirm a Release' are met. Confirmed releases must be reported to DEQ (immediately for ASTs and unregulated USTs, and within 24 hours for regulated USTs).

    Exceptions: Circumstances that warrant an exception to the reporting requirement include:
    • A discharge of oil from a facility (ASTs, unregulated USTs, or other types of facilities) does not have to have to be reported to DEQ if it is less than 25 gallons, does not reach state waters, is cleaned up immediately and the facility retains records of the incident as required by Article 11.
    • A spill or overfill from a regulated UST system does not have to be reported if the spill is less than 25 gallons, is cleaned up within 24 hours and does not cause a sheen on surface water.

Reports Required for Suspected and Confirmed Releases

A Release Investigation Report may be required by the Regional Office to investigate a suspected release. An Initial Abatement and/or Site Characterization may be required by the Regional Office to investigate a confirmed release. When you report a suspected or confirmed release, the DEQ will send a letter outlining the requirements for any investigation and will furnish a due date for the Release Investigation, Initial Abatement and/or Site Characterization Report. Deadlines will be issued in consideration of the work requested and site-specific conditions. Deadline extensions will be granted only when deemed warranted by DEQ staff. An Activity Authorization Form (see Reimbursement Forms for 2007 ) must be completed and approved by the Regional Office (RO) prior to any investigative work. More information about the content of reports required by DEQ may be found within the fact sheets titled “Elements of an Release Investigation Report,” “Elements of an Initial Abatement Report,” and “Elements of a Site Characterization Report” located within The Appendices to the Technical Manual to the Virginia Storage Tank Program.

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


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