If you had a spill of oil at your home or business, or are aware of contamination related to your oil storage tank or delivery line, your first point of contact should be the local fire department. Certain matters are under their direct jurisdiction (e.g., tank removal, public safety issues), and they will in many cases provide advice on how to best proceed. Under state law, you must also contact the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) if certain reporting thresholds are reached or exceeded. In all, there are 22 specific threshold conditions that would require notification to MassDEP – in as little as 2 hours after becoming aware of the problem. The most common reporting conditions at homes and small businesses are listed below:
- A spill of more than 10 gallons of gasoline or oil within a 24 hour period;
- A spill of any quantity of gasoline or oil that creates a sheen on a surface water body;
- A discovery of oil floating on the surface of the groundwater table;
the presence of explosive concentrations of petroleum vapors in a building or confined space.
If you have experienced a sudden spill, CSE’s LSP can assist with notification requirements and recommend response actions in order to quickly reduce health risks and limit the environmental impact of the spill. CSE has worked with many homeowners in the past and is well versed in the MassDEP draft publication Assessing Contamination at Residential Underground Heating Oil Tank Closures. It is also highly recommended that homeowners carefully review this document, which contains complete step-by-step instructions on how to act and proceed, and the pitfalls that should be avoided.