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Heating Oil Tanks Program

Frequently Asked Questions
Decommissioning, Cleanup Costs and Service Providers

A. Decommissioning FAQs

  1. Why should a heating oil tank be decommissioned?
  2. I have a tank that I want to decommission. What do I do?
  3. I have removed my tank from the ground. What do I do with it?
  4. What do I do with the oil still in the tank?
  5. Do I have to decommission my above-ground heating oil tank?

B. Cleanup FAQs

  1. What happens to my cleanup if the rules change after the work is completed and the file is closed?
  2. What is a soil matrix cleanup?
  3. What is the heating oil tank generic remedy?
  4. What is a risk-based cleanup?
  5. Which cleanup method should I choose?
  6. My HOT certification report has been rejected by DEQ. Now what?

C. Decommission/Cleanup Cost FAQs

  1. Cost of HOT decommissioning and cleanup projects as reported by service providers.

D. Service Provider (Contractor) FAQs

  1. How do I find out if a contractor is licensed by DEQ to perform heating oil tank services?
  2. Can DEQ recommend a good contractor?

A. Decommissioning FAQs Answers

  1. Why should a heating oil tank be decommissioned?

Underground heating oil tanks are a potential source of contamination of the soil and groundwater, may pose a fire and explosion hazard under certain conditions, and heating oil from leaking underground tanks may impact human health. Underground tanks also corrode and over time may weaken to the point where they can no longer hold fuel.

  1. I have a tank that I want to decommission. What do I do?

We recommend that you hire a DEQ-licensed service provider to perform this work for you. A list of contractors is available on this Web site or by calling toll-free at 1-800-742-7878.

If you are thinking about decommissioning your own tank, you can access the regulations on this Web site or you can call toll-free at 1-800-742-7878 and have a copy of the information mailed to you.

If you have any questions after you have read the rules and regulations, you can call 503-229-6170 and talk with a heating oil tank specialist.

  1. I have removed my tank from the ground. What do I do with it?

The empty, inert (rendered explosion-free), and cleaned tank can be recycled with any metal recycler or disposal facility. Disposal receipts should be saved.

  1. What do I do with the oil still in the tank?

An oil dealer or an oil recycler can pump the oil out of the tank. Look in your phone directory under oil or waste oil for the names of companies who perform this service.

  1. Do I have to decommission my above-ground heating oil tank?

Above-ground heating oil tanks are not regulated by the DEQ, so decommissioning and certification are not necessary.

B. Cleanup FAQs Answers

  1. What happens to my cleanup if the rules change after the work is completed and the file is closed?

The file will not be reopened because of a rule change. Typically, the only time file is reopened is when new or undisclosed facts show that the cleanup does not comply with the rules in place at the time of cleanup.

  1. What is a soil matrix cleanup?

A soil matrix cleanup is one of several approaches for addressing heating oil contamination and involves the removal of most, if not all, of the contaminated soil at a cleanup site. For more information, refer to the Heating Oil Underground Storage Tank Rules, see Laws and Regulations link above.

  1. What is the heating oil tank generic remedy?

The heating oil tank generic remedy is one of several approaches for addressing heating oil contamination. The generic remedy involves property where some low-level contamination can remain at the site. This may involve some soil removal to achieve the requirements. This method cannot be used for sites with groundwater present in the area of the tank.

  1. What is a risk-based cleanup?

A risk-based cleanup is a method for addressing heating oil contamination that may allow you to leave much of the contamination on the property. A more extensive investigation and evaluation must show that the contamination can remain without posing a risk to human health and the environment. A risk-based cleanup is typically used when removal of contamination may undermine the foundation of the house, or when costs to remove contamination are prohibitive.

  1. Which cleanup method should I choose?

Depending on the extent of contamination and other relevant factors, the responsible person should determine which cleanup option is best suited for the contamination release. Financial considerations, site-specific information, personal preferences of the property owner, and the ability to remove contamination help to determine the best approach.

  1. My HOT Certification Report has been rejected by DEQ. Now what?

In the Oregon law directing DEQ to establish a contractor certification program for HOT decommissionings and cleanups, DEQ must establish provisions to reject certifications and require additional work to correct deficiencies when projects don't meet standards. When adopting the heating oil tank rules in February 2000, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission established four criteria for rejecting certifications:

  • Lack of information or data to support a finding of compliance (such as inadequate sampling to define magnitude and extent of contamination or failing to analyze impacts to groundwater or indoor air, when those resources are affected).
  • Compliance determination is not correct, based on information provided.
  • Information provided does not accurately represent site conditions.
  • There is a violation of applicable rules.

Upon completing an audit and concluding that the project is not complete, DEQ sends out a letter to the contractor, with a copy to the homeowner, which identifies the additional work required to bring the site into compliance with the HOT rules. DEQ reminds contractors that OAR 340-163-0070(5) places the responsibility for any additional work resulting from the rejection of a certified report on the contractor or its errors and omissions insurer, not the property owner. However, completion of any additional work required by DEQ must be coordinated with the property owner.

Unless otherwise stated or agreed to in writing, DEQ expects that contractors will complete the additional work within 30 days and report their actions to DEQ. If contractors fail to complete the additional work in the time given, DEQ may take one or more of the following steps:

  • Deny renewal of a contractor's license, or suspend or revoke an existing license,
  • Advise the homeowner to file a claim with the Construction Contractor Board and/or against the errors and omissions insurance policy required by DEQ rules.
  • Take enforcement action, including imposing a civil penalty.

If contractors have any questions regarding the additional work required in a rejection letter, contractors should immediately contact the HOT staff person listed in the letter. HOT project managers are available to discuss non-compliance issues and proposed solutions to get sites certified, registered and files closed. Similarly, if the additional work cannot be completed within 30 days, the reasons for needing additional time should be sent to DEQ along with a proposed work schedule. DEQ expects contractors to react promptly to its rejection letters, otherwise appropriate enforcement actions will be taken.

C. Decommission/Cleanup Cost FAQs Answers

  1. Cost of HOT decommissioning and cleanup projects as reported by service providers

One of the expected benefits of the HOT service provider self-certification programs was a decrease in the cost of voluntary decommissionings and cleanups. Additionally, by developing risk-based cleanup standards and generic remedy cleanup standards for more complex sites, DEQ expected the average cost of a HOT cleanup to go down. Since Feb. 17, 2000 service providers have been providing project cost information to DEQ. Recently DEQ was able to input all the cost information received through March 10, 2003. Figure 1 shows the average and median costs for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 by project type.

Figure 1

  Average Project Costs
2000
Median Project Costs
2000
Average Project Costs
2001
Median Project Costs
2001
Average Project Costs
2002
Median Project Costs
2002
Statewide HOT Projects $3,513 $3,155 $3,130 $2,500 $2,870 $2,300
All HOT Decommissioning Projects $1,262 $1,000 $1,439 $955 $1,297 $900
All HOT Cleanup Projects $3,843 $3,400 $3,508 $2,725 $3,245 $2,500
All Soil Matrix Projects $3,591 $3,425 $3,089 $2,700 $2,690 $2,165
All Generic Remedy Projects $3,253 $2,750 $3,113 $2,500 $2,901 $2,365
All Risk-Based Projects $4,936 $3,800 $4,102 $2,869 $3,786 $2,650

Figure 2 is a chart showing the decline in the average cost for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 by project type.

Figure 3 shows average, median and total cost information for all projects reported through March 10, 2003.

Figure 3
  Average Project Costs Median Project Costs Total Costs of Projects Number of Projects Percent of Total Projects
Statewide HOT Projects $3,225 $2,590 $23,866,596 7401 100.00
All HOT Decommissioning Projects $1,353 $975 $1,619,201 1197 16.17
All HOT Cleanup Projects $3,586 $2,875 $22,247,395 6204 83.83
All Soil Matrix Projects $3,302 $3,000 $8,010,534 2426 32.78
All Generic Remedy Projects $3,103 $2,500 $4,641,859 1496 20.21
All Risk-Based Projects $4,204 $2,950 $9,595,004 2282 30.83

D. Service Provider (Contractor) FAQs Answers

  1. How do I find out if a contractor is licensed by DEQ to perform heating oil tank services?

A list of contractors is available on this web site. Or, call toll-free at 1-800-742-7878, leave your name and address and a message requesting a list of licensed contractors and a list will be mailed to you.

  1. Can DEQ recommend a good contractor?

No, the DEQ does not recommend contractors. We can provide you with a list of licensed contractors or let you know if the contractor you have selected is currently licensed.

You can also make an appointment to review the DEQ service provider file for a contractor you are interested in hiring by calling 503-229-6170. You may also want to call the Oregon Construction Contractors Board in Salem at 503-378-4621, x4900 to see if the contractor has had any complaints and that their Construction Contractors Board license is current.

This information is also on the Construction Contractors Board Web site.

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For more information about DEQ's Land Quality programs, visit the DEQ contact page.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR 97204-1390
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
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