Frequent Questions

Are environmental media contaminated as a result of migration into a petroleum underground storage tank (UST) excluded from the definition of hazardous waste (40 CFR Section 261.4(b)(10)?

Environmental media contaminated as a result of migration into a petroleum UST are not eligible for the exclusion in Section 261.4(b)(10). The exclusion applies to all contaminated media and debris generated in response to known or suspected releases from petroleum UST systems. 

The term contaminated media includes naturally-occurring substances such as soil, groundwater, surface water, and air (58 FR 8504, 8505; February 12, 1993). The term debris means solid material exceeding a 60 mm (2.5 inch) particle size that is intended for disposal and that is a manufactured object, plant or animal matter, or natural geologic material (Section 268.2(g)).

Contamination of media or debris entering a UST is not due to a petroleum release from the tank system; rather, the contamination results from the petroleum contents within the UST. Therefore, contaminated media or debris inside the UST would not qualify for the exclusion and should be managed as hazardous waste if it exhibits any characteristics of hazardous waste.

Additional information on the regulatory status of environmental media is available in the following guidance document:

Monthly Call Center Report Question - October 1, 2004 (RCRA Online #14738)

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