The Massachusetts Underground Storage Tank Program (UST Program) was established to administer the Massachusetts Underground Storage Tank Petroleum Product Cleanup Fund (Fund). The Fund was created in in 1991 pursuant to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 21J.
The purpose of M.G.L. c.21J is to:
- Prevent the need for environmental cleanup actions and
- Expedite environmental cleanup actions by providing partial reimbursement to owners or operators of UST systems for
- Expenses and
- Other obligations incurred as a result of re0leases of petroleum products from UST systems.
The UST Program also allows for reimbursement for any claims for
- Bodily injury
- Property damage and
- Damage to natural resources,
which are assessed against an owner or operator of a UST system.
Dispensing facilities are eligible to receive reimbursement for work performed after April 1, 1991.
Marinas are eligible for work performed after June 30, 1992.
Reimbursement is subject to a deductible and correlates with the number of UST systems owned by the Claimant. Chapter 21J provides for the program to be indirectly financed by:
- Annual tank registration fees and
- The General Fund.
Currently, this fee is set at $250.00 per eligible UST. (Note that pursuant to the 2013 Commonwealth Transportation Act, the revenue generated by the Delivery Load Fee is now deposited to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund).
Additionally, the Program allows UST owners to demonstrate financial responsibility as required by the:
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and
- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) regulations.
Financial responsibility, as defined by the EPA, means that owner/operators must be able to pay for the:
- Cleanup and
- Costs of damages to natural resources
- Personal injury or
- Property damage, as a result of a leak.
Financial responsibility may be demonstrated by any combination of the following:
- Private insurance
- Self insurance
- Surety bond
- Letter of credit
- State assurance fund.
The 21J Fund was approved on January 13, 1992 by the EPA as a state assurance mechanism. To oversee the Fund, a 9-member Administrative Review Board was established. The Board's primary tasks are to:
- Administer the Fund
- Rule on eligibility and payment of reimbursement claims and
- Develop and oversee the regulations and fee structure.
Under 503 CMR 2.00, the UST Board established criteria by which an owner or operator of a UST system can seek reimbursement for environmental response actions. These criteria include insuring that:
- The UST system was in full compliance with all applicable laws at the time of the release
- The facility was operating after April 2, 1991
- Reimbursement is sought on behalf of an eligible Claimant
- The owner or operator has paid all fees and
- The release is deemed to be an eligible release.
All applications must be filed online using the UST Program electronic filing system – “eUST”
Step 1 – Certificate of Compliance
The first step a tank owner or operator must take is to file an Application for Certificate of Compliance (COC). The tank owner or operator must:
- Complete a separate Application for Certificate of Compliance for each dispensing facility and
- File it with the UST Program.
All new COC applications must include a Board Acceptable Site Assessment (BASA) that demonstrates that the dispensing facility doesn’t have contaminant levels or conditions that:
- Require notification to the MassDEP or
- Requires further response actions.
COCs are issued for a 3-year period. To renew a COC, an owner/operator must file a Renewal Application for Certificate of Compliance prior to the expiration of the current COC in order to be eligible for the program after that date.
Step 2 – Application for Eligibility
Once the COC has been granted and if an owner/operator wishes to seek reimbursement, the next step would be to:
- File an Application for Eligibility following a release and
- File within the timeframe prescribed in 503 CMR 2.00.
To do so, however, one must be an eligible Claimant. An eligible Claimant is one who:
- Takes response actions in excess of deductible amounts and unreimbursed by any other source; or
- Pays a final judgment resulting from civil court action by third parties for bodily injury, property damage and damage to natural resources; or
- Otherwise incurs costs, expenses or obligations as a result of an eligible release.
Additionally, if the claimant/applicant receives payment from another source, such as private insurance or a lawsuit settlement, for the same costs that were either reimbursed or applied for reimbursement, the claimant/applicant must notify us.
An eligible release is one that has:
- Occurred at a site that is in state of "full compliance," where the owner or operator has paid all delivery and annual fees
- Notified MassDEP and MassDEP and
- Issued a Release Tracking Number.
Step 3 – Application for Reimbursement
Once the Application for Eligibility is approved, an Application for Reimbursement may be filed within the timeframes prescribed in 503 CMR 2.00.
The owner or operator must provide documentation for all work provided including, but not limited to:
- Claimant information
- A detailed cost breakdown for all work being claimed
- Acceptable proof of payment and
- Supporting documentation.
The regulations specify items that are likely to be covered by the Fund and those which are not. Generally, the costs must be:
- Reasonable and appropriate and
- Not reimbursed by another source of payment.
Additionally, the regulations establish a Reimbursement Fee Schedule, which is to be used as a not to exceed cost guide for all work performed. The regulations implementing the 21J Program establish reimbursement maximums for costs incurred as a result of an occurrence. The current maximums are as follows:
- Environmental Response Actions
- $1.5 million for an owner or operator of a dispensing facility from which petroleum product is sold or transferred to other dispensing facilities or to the public or the owner or operator of a dispensing facility that handles an average of more than 10,000 gallons of petroleum product per month based on annual throughput for the calendar year previous to filing an application for eligibility; or
- $500,000 for an owner or operator dispensing less than 10,000 gallons of petroleum product per month;
- Third Party Damages: $1 million.
Note that for Third Party Damages claims, the owner or operator should:
- Send the Board a copy of the Final Judgment and
- File a Third Party Damages claim within 180 days of the entry of the Final Judgment.
Please refer to 503 CMR 2.00 for detailed submission requirements.
UST Board Members
- Don Twomey, Chairman Department of Revenue
- Kendall Marra, Department of Environmental Protection Representative
- Mathew Murray, State Fire Marshal Representative
- Thomas J. Porter, Jr., New England Service Station and Automotive Repairman Association Representative
- Stephen Dodge, Massachusetts Petroleum Council Representative
- Edward A. Rachins, Independent Oil Marketers Association Representative
- Parker Wellington, Insurance Industry Representative
- Susan Peck, Finance Industry Representative
- Paul McNeil, Environmental Public Interest Group Representative