There are several important considerations before purchasing an underground storage tank (UST). This article is intended to assist potential purchasers in identifying issues before they purchase a UST and with acquiring a Certificate of Coverage (Certificate) after they become an owner. Please remember, a tank owner must possess a valid Certificate at the time a release is discovered to be eligible for Financial Assurance Fund (Fund) reimbursement.

Purchasing a UST

Determine What Fees are Owed for the USTs

The Board’s rules require all outstanding fees, including the annual per-tank fees, late payment fees, and collection costs for delinquent accounts, be paid before a Certificate can be issued. This means that the purchaser, i.e. new owner, will be responsible for these fees if they have not been paid by the former owner/operator. In addition to any unpaid annual per-tank fees, late payment fees, and collection costs, the new owner must pay a $500 per-facility transfer fee.

You are encouraged to contact the Petroleum Board’s Compliance Department at 614-752-8963 to determine whether any fees are outstanding for the UST(s) you intend to buy.

Determine Whether a Current Certificate of Coverage Exists for the USTs

Even if no annual per-tank fees or late payment fees are owed for a UST, there still may not be a current Certificate in place for it. This is because payment of fees alone does not guarantee the issuance of a Certificate. If coverage does not exist, the owner/operator will be subject to additional steps before a Certificate may be issued. Again, we recommend contacting the Board’s staff to learn whether a current Certificate is in place or verify its status by searching for the facility at www.petroboardinquiry.org.

Learn If a Release Has Occurred at the Site and If Corrective Action Is Ongoing

Prospective purchasers should also contact the Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations (BUSTR) at 614-752-7938 to learn whether a release has been suspected or confirmed from the subject UST system and whether corrective action is ongoing at the site. Click here for a BUSTR Fact Sheet pertaining to purchasing a facility with USTs.

It is also recommended that a copy of all recent (within the past year) leak detection records are obtained and reviewed with a tank consultant. Likewise, an environmental consultant can help identify unreported releases that have occurred at sites. Click here for information on selecting a qualified environmental consultant.

Only the owner or operator of a UST at the time the release is discovered has standing to seek reimbursement from the Fund. Therefore, if a release has occurred for which eligibility has been granted, the owner or operator at the time of the release is the only person with standing to submit claims for reimbursement to the Fund for that release.

Other Considerations

UST facilities come with very specific operational compliance requirements and cleanup responsibilities to ensure public health and safety are protected. When considering purchasing a UST facility, be sure to learn and understand what these requirements are. Be aware of all costs (fees, testing, upgrading, financial responsibility, and potential cleanup costs, etc.). It is often beneficial to consult with an attorney, who is knowledgeable in the area of UST laws, before finalizing a decision to buy.

Establishing Coverage

1)           Notify the Board

Notify the Board within 30 days of the transfer by mailing or emailing a completed Transfer of Ownership Form with a copy of executed sales documentation (Bill of Sale, Deed Transfer, etc.). For ownership transfers of USTs that do not also include the sale of real estate, a copy of sales documentation (Asset Purchase Agreement, Bill of Sale, etc.) is required.

2)           Criteria for Obtaining a Certificate of Coverage

(a)     If a Certificate exists for the UST(s), the new owner is required to:

·        Pay a $500 (per facility) transfer fee if purchased on or after June 30, 2006;

·        Pay any outstanding annual per-tank fees, late payment fees, and/or collection costs associated with the USTs as outlined in the Notification of Assessment;

·        Certify compliance with the State Fire Marshal’s rules and demonstrate the ability to pay expenses up to the deductible amount of coverage by completing the Certification of Compliance and Statement of Financial Responsibility included with the Application for Certificate of Coverage/Annual Fee Assessment Statement provided to you with the Notification of Assessment.

·        Transfer registration of the USTs with the Bureau of Testing and Registration (614-752-7126) or visit the BUSTR registration page.

(b)         If a Certificate does not exist for the UST(s), the new owner is required to take the following steps in addition to those steps identified above in Sections 1 and 2(a):

·        Certify there has been no release suspected or confirmed from the subject USTs or any known release in compliance with the State Fire Marshal’s corrective action requirements of Ohio Administrative Code 1301:7-9-13 by completing the O.A.C. 3737-1-04.1 Affidavit.

·        Submit current leak detection records to demonstrate leak detection is being performed in compliance with the State Fire Marshal’s requirements. Click here to learn more about leak detection.

·        For UST(s) that have been out of service for more than one year, the new owner should contact the Board’s staff about additional compliance steps.

If a Certificate exists for the UST(s) and the new owner notifies the Board within 30 days from the date of the transfer and follows all required steps within 30 days from the date of the Notification of Assessment, there will not be a lapse in coverage. If a Certificate does not exist, then coverage will not exist until all associated steps are satisfied.

If after the UST purchase, the new owner owns a combined total of six or fewer USTs and the prior owner’s Certificate carries the $55,000 deductible, coverage at the reduced deductible may be obtained by paying the full per-tank fee. (The current deductible is $55,000 at $350 per tank. A reduced deductible of $11,000 is available to owners of six or fewer USTs at $550 per tank.)


Other Useful Links

BUSTR Guide to Financial Responsibility

BUSTR Operational Compliance Requirements for USTs

BUSTR Guide to Daily Inventory Control Procedures

BUSTR Facility Search Page