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NJDEP Proposed Unregulated Heating Oil Tank System Rule Changes

With the possibility of these proposed regulations going into effect, it's important to have consultants who have experience with USTs and understand how they may pertain to the removal process.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has proposed new rules regarding underground heating oil tanks. The Heating Oil Tank System (HOTS) Remediation Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:26F) will pertain to specific unregulated heating oil tanks (i.e., residential heating oil tanks, and non-residential heating oil tanks less than 2,000-gallons in volume) and their associated piping. These heating oil tank systems can be either aboveground or underground storage tanks. Heating oil includes No. 2, No. 4, and No. 6 heating oil, and kerosene, when those fuels are used for heating purposes (as opposed to industrial use, motor fuel, or resale).

The primary proposed changes to the rules are as follows:

  • The owner of a heating oil tank system is now required to notify the NJDEP when a discharge is discovered, regardless of who discovers it, and requires the owner to comply with the notification requirements established by the NJDEP in their Administrative Requirements for the Remediation of Contaminated Sites (ARRCS) at N.J.A.C. 7:26C-1.7(j);
  • Within 48 hours of the discovery of the release, the owner is required to hire either a certified subsurface evaluator or a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) to remediate the discharge;
  • If the discharge of heating oil is less than 100 gallons and does NOT reach surface water or ground water, the responsible party may remediate the discharge under the oversight of local authorities (however, the NJDEP will NOT issue a HOTS NFA under these circumstances);
  • Prescriptive technical requirements are in the regulation, not a separate guidance document.  For example:
    • If free product (FP) is identified as originating from the heating oil system, the owner must initiate FP removal within 60 days; and delineation and FP remediation must be completed within one year.
  • Groundwater must be investigated when:
    • any portion of the heating oil tank system is located within the seasonal high groundwater table or within two feet of either groundwater or bedrock;
    • soil sampling indicates the presence of a heating oil-related contaminant above the site-specific impact to groundwater soil remediation standard; or
    • excavation of contaminated soil is continued down to bedrock or groundwater.
  • Distinct sets of instructions for soil sampling and analysis have been established;
  • Specific Receptor Evaluation requirements and timeframes must be adhered to if a site contains FP and/or groundwater impact from the HOTS; and
  • Removal of the requirement to analyze groundwater for Tentatively Identified Compounds (TICs) for #2 oil discharges only.
  • Under specific conditions, an LSRP can establish a “HOTS Deed Notice” (HDN) and leave contamination in place.  The HDN does not require a NJDEP Remedial Action Permit -Soil, NJDEP fees, or biennial certifications; and
  • If there is residual contamination (defined as “estimated to be less than 15 cubic yards) under a residential building, an LSRP can leave the contamination in place by implementing a Small Quantity Exception.  This option does not require a Deed Notice;
    • Both of the above options are only applicable to residential properties, and cannot have impacted ground water, or pose a threat to public health or the environment.

The proposed new chapter (7:26F) will not apply if the heating oil tank system is located on a property that is subject to Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA).  The NJDEP will not issue a No Further Action (NFA) letter for the ISRA subjected site. 

NJDEP proposes to create financial assistance to offset the cost (note that they did not say cover) of remediation of a HOTS.  NJDEP is also recommending a series of “minor” and “non-minor” violations and associated fines to help enforce the proposed rules.

With these new regulations possibly going into effect, it is important to have consultants who have experience with Underground Storage Tanks and how these new rules may pertain to the removal process. In the State of New Jersey a Licensed Site Remediation Professional is essential to ensuring that your project is compliant to these new guidelines.

Ed Claypoole, LSRP - Drawing on 30 years of experience and a wide range of technical expertise, his technical and managerial responsibilities include evaluating potential contaminant source areas, designing hydrogeological investigations, identifying and assessing potential risks to receptors (human and ecological) and developing risk management/remedial options. Mr. Claypoole’s project experience with AST/UST removal/remediation included reviewing contractor bids, contractor oversight, staffing, budgeting, sample collection, reporting and being the liaison between government agencies and clients.  He has prepared various environmental reports and technical documents including Remedial Action, Remedial Investigation, and UST Closure Reports.  He successfully directed field operations for various projects involving water and soil sampling, oversight/supervision of contractors during soil investigations/remediations, including over 400 UST (regulated and unregulated) removals throughout New Jersey ranging in size from 275-gallons to 30,000-gallons.