Virginia DEQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Storage Tank Program Technical Information

  1. What analyses are required when closing a regulated UST?

    Persons closing regulated USTs containing petroleum are required to collect soil or water samples from locations where a release would likely be detected if one occurred.  Samples collected during the closure of regulated USTs containing petroleum must be analyzed for total petroleum hydrocarbons using an appropriate EPA or DEQ approved analytical method. Table 5-4 in the Storage Tank Program Technical Manual (Technical Manual) contains a list of analytical methods that are considered 'approved' by DEQ. 

    Samples collected during the closure of regulated USTs containing regulated substances other than petroleum must be analyzed for the substances or constituents present in the tank.  For example: If a tank contained xylene, the person closing the tank must analyze samples for xylene.  Please see Section 7 of the Storage Tank Program Technical Manual for additional information about tank closure requirements.

  2. What analyses are required when closing a home heating oil tank?

    Home heating oil tanks are exempt from the UST Technical Regulation and persons closing/removing these tanks are not required by DEQ to collect samples during tank closure/removal.  Please be aware the the local Building Inspector's off or Fire Marshall's office might require closure/removal sampling and should be contacted for their requirements prior to closing/removing a home heating oil UST. If samples are collected and evidence of a release of heating oil is found, however, the tank operator is required to report the release to DEQ.  Table 5-4 in the Storage Tank Program Technical Manual contains a list of analytical methods that are considered 'approved' by DEQ in the event that samples are taken.  Additional questions about heating oil tanks can be found below in the section 'Heating Oil Tank Frequently Asked Questions'.

  3. What are DEQ's “action levels”?

    The term “action level” may have different meanings depending upon the individual and the context. Within the DEQ Storage Tank Program, “action levels” are mostly related to : (a) reporting requirements; and (b) clean-up levels or requirements, which are usually risk-based and determined on a case-by-case basis.

    Reporting Requirements

    Owners and operators of regulated USTs are required to report suspected or confirmed releases to DEQ within 24 hours of discovering the release. Releases from unregulated USTs (such as residential heating oil tanks and small farm tanks) and all ASTs must be reported to DEQ immediately. See Reporting A Release on DEQ's website or Section 2.1 of the Storage Tank Technical Manual for additional information on both suspected and confirmed release. 

    Regulated and Unregulated UST Closures:   Persons closing USTs must report the following concentrations to DEQ:

    a.) a TPH concentration in soil that is greater than or equal to 100 mg/kg
    b.) a TPH concentration in water that is greater than or equal to 1 mg/l
    c.) the concentration of any regulated substance that exceeds the detection limit for that substance

    Regulated AST Closures:   Persons closing ASTs having a capacity of greater than 660 gallons of oil must report the following concentrations immediately upon receiving analytical results:

    a.) a TPH concentration in soil that is greater than or equal to 100 mg/kg
    b.) a TPH concentration in water that is greater than or equal to 1 mg/l
    c.) the concentration of any petroleum constituent (e.g. benzene) that exceeds the detection limit for that constituent.

    Tank-related non-closure samples:    If samples are collected at any time other than UST closure (example: environmental site assessments for property transfer), persons must report analytical results that are greater than the detection limit for any regulated substance.

    For spills, overfills, and other signs of a petroleum release (example: contaminated drinking water wells) from both regulated and unregulated USTs and ASTs (including home heating oil), DEQ should be contacted within 24 hours for UST releases and immediately for AST release.

    For additional information on reporting requirements, persons should refer to Chapter 2 of the Technical Manual.

    Clean-up Levels

    Clean-up levels or remedial endpoints are site specific and risk based. The reporting thresholds listed above are not remedial endpoints.

  4. What analytical methods are acceptable?

    The UST Technical Regulation states that samples collected for site characterization shall be tested according to established EPA analytical methods or methods approved by the Board. Generally, analyses performed after a release has been reported to DEQ should be agreed to by the tank owner/operator, consultant, and DEQ Case Manager as part of the Activity Authorization process. Table 5.4 of the Storage Tank Program Technical Manual contains a list of methods commonly used for analyzing petroleum or various petroleum constituents. The methods listed in this table are considered “approved” by the DEQ Storage Tank Program provided that they are applied appropriately.

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    Reimbursement Frequently Asked Questions

    A. Regular Claim Processing
    1. What do I need to submit in order submit a claim for reimbursement?

      Send a properly completed Reimbursement Application (Form 1) and AAF Cost Worksheets along with all associated invoices to DEQ Central Office in Richmond. Also, send a properly completed Activity Authorization Form (AAF) and, if applicable, a completed Bid Work Progress Form to the appropriate DEQ Regional Office. (Forms and addresses are included in Volume 3 of the Reimbursement Guidance Manual which can be downloaded from the Guidance & Regulations page).

    2. How do I determine the correct claimant name for Form 1 (Line 1)?

      The claimant name should be the petroleum tank owner/operator whom DEQ has designated as the Responsible Person (RP) for the cleanup at the site.

    3. When should I submit a Substitute COV W-9 Form?

      The Substitute COV W-9 Form is filled out by the responsible party and submitted with the first claim application or when Federal Tax information changes.  

    4. When should I submit a Form 2-Payment Assignment Form?

      When a Responsible Party assigns the proceeds of a reimbursement application to another party, Form 2 must be filled out. The assignment applies to the application in which it is submitted and the reconsideration of that application.  A Substitute COV W-9 must be submitted and filed out by the party receiving payment.

    5. How do I determine the net annual profits for an AST Storage Capacity in Part VII of Form 1?

      The net annual profits should be based on the financial statements from the fiscal year preceding the date the release was reported to DEQ.

    6. What is the claim filing deadline?

      All reimbursement claims must be filed with DEQ no later than two years from the remediation case closure date.

    7. How can I tell when a case was closed?

      A case is closed the day that DEQ sends a letter indicating that no further action is required at the site.  The case closure date is the date of the letter. Please note that a case closure is not the same as a tank closure. A case closure means DEQ sent a letter stating no further assessment or cleanup action is required at the leaking tank site. A tank closure means you removed a tank or closed it in place and notified DEQ of the action.

    8. Why did DEQ reject my claim?

      DEQ rejects claims when an application is lacking information or it is improperly submitted so that it cannot be processed. The rejection letter from DEQ will provide you a written explanation of why it could not process your claim application and inform you what you need to submit or correct to process you claim.

    9. X-Code Document Frequently Asked Questions

    10. When is an invoice acceptable if some of the billed information has been blacked out?

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    B. Reconsideration
    1. What types of errors can be corrected in the Reconsideration Process?

      Please refer to section 4.4 of the Virginia Petroleum Storage Tank Reimbursement Guidance Manual for this information. If you do not have a copy you may obtain one by calling (804) 698-4452 or download from the Guidance & Regulations page.

    2. How long does it take to process a Reconsideration Application?

      The processing time usually takes no more than 90 days from the time of submittal of the Reconsideration Claim Form.

    3. What is a Reconsideration Conversion Request Form?

      The Conversion Request Form is faxed to the claimant and/or their representative along with a letter and copy of the claim decision once the claim is processed. Signing and returning the Conversion Request Form is how the claimant waives the right to a Reconsideration Meeting and chooses a Written Reconsideration.

    4. How will I be notified in order to schedule a meeting with the Reconsideration Panel?

      Claimants or representatives of claimants who elect to participate in a face to face meeting before the Reconsideration Panel receive a letter confirming a meeting with the DEQ Reconsideration Panel.  This letter will be emailed to you.

    5. How will I be notified of the Reconsideration Claim decision if I choose to respond in writing only?

      Those claimants who elect to participate in a claim decision in writing only will receive their claim decision through the mail. You may always call the customer service line at (804) 698-4358 if you desire any additional information.

    6. Can the reconsideration Panel Meeting be rescheduled?

      The Reconsideration Panel meeting can only be rescheduled in the case of a bonafide emergency. If this becomes necessary please contact the Reconsideration Claim Processing team at (804) 698-4282.

    7. What types of supporting documentation should be submitted with the claim?

      A Denial Code Response Key is included in the information mailed to you along with your original claim decision. Each individual cost denied in your claim will be assigned an applicable code number to reference. The Response Key will give you an indication of how to respond to each denial code.

    8. Are there any Instructions on how to file a Reconsideration Claim?

      You may download the Reconsideration Procedures from the Guidance & Regulations DEQ website page. In addition, Reconsideration Procedures Applicable to all Reimbursement Claims issued after March 1, 2007 are sent to the claimant along with their original claim decision by mail. If you did not obtain a copy you may call the customer service number at (804) 698-4452.

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    Heating Oil Tank Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What regulations apply to my home heating oil tank?

      Home heating oil tanks may be above or below ground and typically range in size from 250 to 1000 gallons.  All underground home heating oil tanks are exempt from the DEQs State and federal Underground Storage Tank (UST) Technical Regulations. Aboveground home heating oil tanks less than or equal to 5,000 gallons capacity are exempt from the DEQ's Pollution Prevention requirements. Discharges of oil from above or below ground heating oil tanks are prohibited by Article 11 of State Water Control Law and must be reported to DEQ immediately. Always check local building/fire codes and ordinances to see if any apply to your heating oil tank.  For example; most localities require a permit for installing or closing a heating oil tank.

    2. What do I do with a home heating oil tank that is no longer being used?

      Check with your local building/fire code officials for local codes or ordinances that may pertain.  Home heating oil tanks should be properly closed by removal or abandonment in place.  Tank removal is advantageous because it eliminated a potential threat to the environment. Also, potential buyers are sometimes reluctant to purchase property with abandoned underground home heating oil tanks left in place; therefore, removal may prove beneficial. Additional information about heating oil tanks and property transactions is discussed below.

    3. If I choose to remove my home heating oil tank, what are the requirements?

      Inquire with your local building/fire officials to see if a local building permit and any inspections are required to remove or demolish the structure. You do not need to contact the DEQ unless you discover signs of a leak, spill, or contamination.

    4. What do I do if I discover evidence of a leak?

      If you discover signs of a leak or spillage such as stains on the soil, strong petroleum odors, puddles of oil, etc., your local DEQ Regional Office must be notified immediately.  DEQ Regional Offices can be obtained by accessing the link. The DEQ staff will provide you with the appropriate procedures to follow. Work performed more than 24 hours prior to reporting a leak to DEQ or local official is not eligible for reimbursement.

    5. What kind of companies do this sort of work?

      Often, you can find them in the telephone or web yellow pages under “Environmental Consultants”. When choosing a firm get several estimates and references. There is also a list of Consultant/Contractors which can be downloaded from the Files & Forms web page.

    6. What are some of the outcomes during property transactions?

      During property transactions, the buyer, buyer's financial institution (lender) or insurance company may require soil samples to satisfy their requirements for a home purchase; if a release of heating oil is identified as a result of this sampling, the tank owner is required to report the release to DEQ. If samples are taken, they should be analyzed for total petroleum hydrocarbons using an appropriate EPA or DEQ approved analytical method. Table 5-4 in the Storage Tank Program Technical Manual contains a list of analytical methods that are considered 'approved' by DEQ. Please be aware that sometimes the requirements of the property transaction by the buyer, lender, or insurance company will dictate whether an abandoned underground storage tank is closed in place or removed properly, irrespective of soil sample results collected at the site. DEQ is only involved with determining whether any clean up is required if petroleum contamination has been detected.

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


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