Responsible Person Identification

Responsible Person Identification for USTs

RP image A Responsible Person is any person who is an owner or operator of an underground storage tank (UST) at the time a release is reported to the Board. DEQ May require any owner or operator who is the Responsible Person for a petroleum release to take corrective action for the release. Owners and Operators are both considered to be Responsible Persons. Both are liable for investigative and/or cleanup costs.

An owner is:

  • anyone who owned an UST system that was in use or brought into use on or after November 8, 1984.
  • for an UST system that was in use before November 8, 1984, but not on or after that date, the owner would be the person who owned the system when the UST system was last used.
Note: The term 'owner' does not include any person who, without participating in the management of an UST or being otherwise engaged in petroleum production, refining, and marketing, holds indicia of ownership primarily to protect the holder's security interest in the tank.

An operator is:

  • any person in control of, or having responsibility for, the daily operation of an UST system.

When identifying a Responsible Person, DEQ makes the following presumptions:

  • The release occurred at the time of discovery.
  • The UST owner listed on the most recent UST Notification Form (7530-2) is the UST owner.
  • If DEQ has not received a Notification Form, the current land owner is the UST owner and is the Responsible Person for the necessary investigations and/or cleanup.

A potential Responsible Person may provide acceptable written evidence that another person is the Responsible Person or that the release came from an UST system removed by a previous owner.


Documents that are accepted to establish UST ownership:

  • UST Notification Form filed with DEQ
  • Bill of Sale, Deed, or other document indicating someone else owns the UST
  • Document such as a tax record or real estate appraisal showing discontinuation of use of the UST system prior to November 8, 1984;
  • A Building Permit showing UST removal by prior owner, documents indicating that a release occurred prior to removal (e.g. records from local fire or building officials, DEQ records), and a replaced UST exists on site (not in the same excavation), but has had no release.

USTs are normally considered fixtures, transferred with the land, unless an UST Notification Form, contract, bill of sale, or other written agreement exists that specifically states otherwise.

Documents that are accepted as evidence of such an agreement:

  • lease agreement
  • deed
  • bill of sale
  • service contract
  • court orders
  • bankruptcy proceedings documents

As a general rule, affidavits alone are not acceptable in establishing UST ownership.


Pollution Control Tax Exemption

State law provides that local governments may exempt or partially exempt pollution control equipment and facilities from taxation. To qualify for this exemption for petroleum tank pollution control equipment/facilities, the taxpayer must obtain a pollution control/abatement certification from the DEQ Regional Office and provide it to the Department of Taxation.

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


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