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Underground Heating Oil Tank Cleanup Reimbursement Program

Program Update

Update August 2, 2021: The Application for Reimbursement has transitioned to an on-line application. This change allows for expedited submittal and DEP review of applications. Links to the new On-Line Application and to the updated Application Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions documents are now available from the below Application and Instructions list.

The paper application form (Document # 2620-FM-BECB0249) has been retired. DEP will continue to accept complete, paper application packet submittals that are postmarked on or before August 9, 2021. Any paper application submittals postmarked after August 9, 2021 will be returned to the applicant with instruction to resubmit the application through the on-line application portal.

Program Summary

The Underground Heating Oil Tank Cleanup Reimbursement Program provides funds to assist tank owners with eligible environmental cleanup costs resulting from releases of heating oil from underground tanks.

Reimbursements are subject to a $1,000 deductible, which is satisfied by the first $1,000 of eligible costs paid by the tank owner. Remaining eligible costs paid by the tank owner may be reimbursed up to a maximum of $4,000. For owners of multiple tanks, the deductible and reimbursement limit apply on a per tank basis. All reimbursements are funded through the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund, and up to $750,000 per year is available for this program through June 30, 2022.

Eligibility Requirements

If you can answer “YES” to ALL of the below questions, you may be eligible for reimbursement.

  • Are/were you the tank owner?
  • Was the heating oil tank an underground (buried) tank?
  • Was the tank capacity 3,000 gallons or less?
  • Did the tank store fuel that was used for heating on the premises?
  • Was there a release of heating oil to the environment from the tank, the associated lines/pipes, or resulting from a spill or overfill due to a failure of the tank system?
  • Did the release occur, or was it discovered, on or after January 30, 1998?
  • Has an environmental cleanup been completed, or is one in progress?

Note: Aboveground heating oil tanks, including tanks located on or above the surface of the floor in an underground area, such as a basement or cellar, are not eligible for this program.

Eligible Costs

Eligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • Excavating, emptying, cleaning, removing, transporting and disposing of a leaking underground storage tank that stored heating oil solely for on-site use. These costs for the removal or decommissioning of the leaking tank are only eligible for reimbursement if environmental cleanup work is also performed.
  • Excavating contaminated soil, and/or recovering released heating oil.
  • Transporting and disposing of wastes (e.g. in-tank materials, contaminated soil, contaminated groundwater).
  • Activities for determining the extent of contamination, including conducting soil borings or installing wells.
  • Designing and implementing groundwater and surface water abatement systems (e.g. installation and maintenance of well water treatment systems and placement of absorbent booms in streams, lakes, or ponds).
  • Restoring disturbed or contaminated areas by backfilling, grading, and basic revegetation.
  • Sampling and analytical costs associated with disposal of wastes, determining the extent of contamination, evaluating the progress of the cleanup, and confirming that a cleanup is complete.
  • Preparing tank closure and environmental cleanup reports that are submitted to DEP.
  • Permit and inspection fees associated with tank removal or closure, or environmental cleanup.
  • Implementing on-site soil treatment technologies (e.g. bioremediation) may be eligible. Property owners considering remediation methods other than the excavation and off-site disposal of contaminated soil must contact their respective DEP regional office for guidance on applicability. Pre- and post-remediation soil analysis will be necessary to confirm effectiveness and establish eligibility.

Items Specifically Excluded From Eligible Costs

Ineligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • Excavating, emptying, cleaning, removing, transporting and disposing of a non-leaking tank.
  • Costs associated with aboveground storage tanks, including tanks that are located on or above the surface of the floor in an underground area, such as a basement or cellar.
  • Costs associated with underground storage tanks that dispensed heating oil for off-site use.
  • Repairing a heating oil tank; installing a new heating oil tank; repairing or replacing a heating system; and replacement fuel.
  • Inspection and permit fees not associated with tank removal or closure, or environmental cleanup, such as permit fees for installing a new tank or heating system.
  • Preparing the reimbursement application, and preparation of reports solely for the tank owner’s use.
  • Activities eligible for reimbursement under other assistance programs or those covered by private insurance.

Reporting Heating Oil Releases

If a heating oil release has contaminated or could potentially contaminate groundwater or surface water, it must be reported to the local DEP regional office. Since the potential to contaminate groundwater or surface water is often difficult to assess, DEP recommends that all heating oil releases to the environment be reported. The DEP regional office can help with information on cleaning up a heating oil release and obtaining cleanup liability protection.

To report an environmental emergency, please contact DEP regional offices between 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. and 1-800-541-2050 between 4 p.m. - 8 a.m.

Application and Instructions

The Application for Reimbursement must be submitted electronically through the Pennsylvania Electronic Single Application system.

  • Instructions for the On-Line Application for Reimbursement (PDF)
  • Applicants must upload copies of the following documentation to complete the online application:
    • The original, itemized contractor invoices for the tank closure and/or environmental cleanup work that has been performed. Contractor estimates or proposals will not be accepted.
    • Proof of payment for all eligible costs to be considered for reimbursement. Proof of payment may include a copy of both the front and back of a cancelled check; a paid contractor invoice or account statement; or other paid receipt.
  • DEP will process complete applications on a “first come, first served” basis until all program funds have been committed for the current, state fiscal year (July 1 to June 30). DEP does not guarantee the availability of program funds.
  • Reimbursement payment information will be reported to the IRS and may be subject to federal tax.
  • Reimbursement Program Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

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Home Heating Oil Cleanup - Useful Information

For more information, contact the Storage Tank Cleanup Program in Harrisburg at 717-787-0886, the Environmental Cleanup Program in a local DEP regional office, or email tankcleanup@pa.gov.