What Should I Do if I Discover a UST Leak on My Property?
It’s a nightmare scenario: You’ve purchased a nice, beautiful plot of land. You’ve demolished the old property, long since used. You begin the process of constructing a lucrative commercial building (or even a family home), only to discover signs of environmental contamination. You bring in an inspector and, lo and behold, you’ve discovered a previously unknown underground storage tank (UST), leaking oil and other toxic chemicals onto your land and the surrounding area. What do you do now? Continue reading for tips on how to respond to a UST leak, and if you need assistance with a damaged or contaminated UST in New Jersey or Florida, call a professional underground storage tank (UST) remediation and removal expert at Herbert Lutz & Co.
USTs Are Everywhere – You Are Not Alone
The first thing to keep in mind is that you are not the first to have this problem. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are roughly 542,000 USTs nationwide storing petroleum or other hazardous substances. From 1998 through September 2022, there were more than 568,000 confirmed releases reported to the EPA, leading to around 556,000 cleanups. And those are just the known USTs. The EPA has issued estimates indicating there may be more than 100,000 unknown or undiscovered USTs in New Jersey alone that have not been properly decommissioned or removed.
Steps to Take if You Find a UST Leak
If you discover a leaking UST on your property, one of your first items of business is to call the proper authorities. If you own the land, the UST is your problem, even if you bought the property without knowing a UST was even present, let alone breached. New Jersey regulations demand that you notify the Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) within a reasonable period of time.
The state maintains a 24-hour hotline for reporting UST leaks. Once you report the leak, the state will provide you with information on how to commence the remediation process. If the leak is complex, they’ll assign a case manager to assist you with remediation.
Ultimately, they’ll tell you to contract with a licensed site remediation professional (LSRP). The LSRP will conduct an analysis and commence the cleanup process. They’ll remove the leaking tank, address any contaminated soil, and review the surrounding groundwater and other environmental risks for any hazards.
Once the cleanup has been completed, you’ll need to obtain final state approval of the remediation. The state will conduct an inspection and, if they are satisfied with the cleanup, you’ll receive the coveted “no further action” (NFA) letter via NJDEP’s Voluntary Cleanup Program.
It’s vital to go through the appropriate processes once you discover your UST leak, and that you work with a proper, licensed UST remediation and removal professional. As the property owner, you could find yourself liable for any environmental contamination that occurred as a result of your failure to either inspect for a UST at the outset or appropriately respond to a UST leak you’ve discovered. You’ll likely need the NFA letter to engage in any further transactions involving that property in the future; future buyers who learn of the leak will want assurance that remediation is full and complete.
Call the Comprehensive UST Remediation Experts at Lutz for Your Underground Storage Tank Issues
If you discover a UST at your construction worksite, if you have to respond to a UST spill on your property, or if you inherit contaminated property in your asset purchase, you need professional help from seasoned advisors with years of underground storage tank experience. For diligent, dedicated assistance dealing with a UST on your property, call Herbert Lutz & Company in Florida at 954-971-5222, or in New Jersey at 908-862-8888.