Unregulated Heating Oil Tank Program (UHOT): Homeowner's Guide FAQs
- Does a previous abandoned underground storage tank on my property need to be removed?
Heating oil underground storage tanks that service residential buildings are considered unregulated heating oil tank systems. The Program does not regulate the
operation of these tanks, however, it does oversee the remediation of an unregulated heating oil tank once a discharge is discovered. If there is no indication
of a discharge, there is no state requirement that the tank be removed. However, it is not uncommon that real estate or other professionals recommend that a tank
be removed in preparation for the sale of a home. In this instance, if a discharge is discovered during the removal of the underground storage tank, remediation
- Do I need a permit for a previously abandoned tank?
This matter is addressed in an article titled, "Abandoned Underground Storage Oil Tank (UST) - Tank or Not A Tank?" found in the NJ Department of
Community Affairs Construction Code Communicator - Summer 2021 article
- Who can remove an unregulated heating oil tank (UHOT) located underground?
A closure certified individual working for a closure certified UST firm is required to remove underground UHOTs.
- Do I need a certification to remove an underground storage tank?
Yes. The requirements related to being certified for closure of underground storage tanks can be found in the Underground Storage of Hazardous
Substances (UST) Rules N.J.A.C. 7:14B.
- How can I verify the certification of an underground storage tank contractor?
To get a list of certified firms you can go to the DEP's data miner reports.
For ease of review, you should export the report as a PDF or Excel file
To verify the certification of a firm for subsurface evaluation, refer to the Cert Type column in the table on the right side of the page for SUBSURFACE EVALUATION.
To verify the certification for a firm to close your underground storage tank, refer to the Cert Type column in the table on the right side of the page for
CLOSURE (may close any underground storage tank) or HHO CLOSURE (may only close heating oil tanks).
Note: a closure contractor can only perform remediation services if they are also certified for subsurface evaluation. If your closure contractor does not hold a
certification for subsurface evaluation, you will need to hire a separate contractor to complete the remediation.
- Who is allowed to remove an aboveground storage tank?
A NJ licensed HVACR contractor, NJ licensed plumbing contractor, homeowner, or NJ licensed DEP contractor can remove an aboveground oil tank. A contractor with an
HIC registration cannot remove an aboveground oil tank.
- How do you find a certified firm?
You can find DEP Certified firms at the following link.
- Can a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) close my tank system?
A Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) cannot remove or otherwise close an underground storage tank unless the LSRP is certified for closure. A closure
certified individual is required to be present on-site during the tank removal.
- Can I hire an LSRP to conduct a heating oil tank cleanup?
To investigate/remediate a leaking UHOT, environmental professionals must either be a certified subsurface evaluator (SSE) working for an UST Firm certified in
subsurface evaluation OR a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP). Once the discharge is identified, the SSE is required to be present when sampling or
excavation takes place. An LSRP can oversee and sign off on subsurface work in place of having a SSE present onsite.
- How do I check to see if a business has a history of complaints?
The Office of Consumer Protection operates the Consumer Service Center, which is the central clearinghouse for consumer complaints. It also serves as the liaison
between the state, county and municipal Consumer Affairs offices. For assistance in filing a complaint, requesting a complaint form, or to check the complaint
history of a business, call the Consumer Service Center at (973) 504-6200.
- How do I file a complaint against a contractor?
General consumer complaints (including price gouging) can be filed at the Consumer Affair's File a Complaint web page.
For complaints specifically regarding work conducted:
If your contractor is a Licensed Site Remediation Professional, you may file a complaint using the form found at
SRPL Board Complaint Form web page.
If your contractor is someone you hired to close your tank or is a subsurface evaluator, you may send your complaint to
- Can a contractor raise their costs without notifying me?
No. The Underground Storage of Hazardous Substances (UST) Rules N.J.A.C. 7:14B requires that certified individuals and business firms employ
fair and reasonable pricing and business practices in all of its dealings with clients, including a written contract that contains the
- Clear and detailed descriptions of the work activities to be performed;
- Lists of all materials, equipment, tools and other incidentals anticipated to be necessary for the execution of the proposed work activities;
- Lists of the number and types of personnel anticipated to be necessary for the execution of the proposed work activities;
- The maximum contract price that cannot be exceeded without written amendments to the contract;
- Estimated time frames for the completion of the work activities listed in the contract; and
- A listing and description of all services in the contract which exceed the requirements of the applicable local, State or Federal rules and regulations.
- How can I tell there is a problem with my heating oil tank?
Signs that indicate there is a problem with your heating oil tank include, but are not limited to:
an unexpected or unexplained oil consumption increase that does not appear to coincide with prolonged cold weather or increased
heating system use;
- water in the underground storage tank;
- consistent problems with your oil burner;
- stressed or dead vegetation in the area over and around the tank;
- oil odors in areas other than at the oil burner (in basement or utility room);
- tastes, odors, or other issues with your potable well drinking water;
- oil staining on basement walls or floors adjacent to the tank;
- presence of oil or sheen in the basement sump or French drain; and
- oil or sheen in any nearby culverts, drainage ditches, storm drains or natural water bodies in the area of the residence.
- I have an open municipal permit and the municipality is requiring a NFA letter to close the permit. How do I get a NFA letter?
In order to get a NFA letter, the remediation of the discharge must have been completed in accordance with the Heating Oil Tank System Remediation Rules
(N.J.A.C. 7:26F) and a Remedial Action Report, UHOT form and the review fee must be submitted to the DEP. If the remediation has not been completed, you will
need to contract a firm certified in subsurface evaluation or retain the services of a Licensed Site Remediation Professional to complete the remediation.
- Is a NFA issued if no contamination is found?
For an unregulated heating oil tank (UHOT), the DEP issues No Further Action letters when a discharge is discovered and a remediation is implemented. If a UHOT
is closed and there was no evidence of a discharge and the tank passed the municipal inspection, there is no need for a NFA letter.
- My business property has a heating oil underground storage tank. Does it qualify for the UHOT program?
Unregulated Heating Oil Tanks are all residential heating oil tanks and non-residential heating oil USTs 2,000 gallons or less. Any non-residential heating oil
underground storage tanks that are greater than 2,000 gallon must be registered with the DEP and remediated via the Licensed Site Remediation Program.
- My tank was abandoned in place by a DEP certified contractor who obtained all of the required permits from the municipality. Does that guarantee that my tank did not leak?
No. The DEP is aware of many situations where an underground storage tank, abandoned in place in accordance with the NJ Uniform Construction Code, is removed and
contamination is discovered.
- What happens if a previously abandoned tank fails inspection with no signs of a discharge?
This matter is addressed in an article titled, "When to Call the DEP Hotline for Unregulated Heating Oil Tanks (UHOTs)" found in the NJ Department of Community Affairs
Construction Code Communicator - Spring 2022 (page 2).
- How many soil samples are needed for an Unregulated Heating Oil Tank?
The requirements for sampling are found in the Heating Oil Tank System Remediation Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:26F. For a discharge from an underground storage tank, at least
5 samples will need to be collected though the actual number of samples will depend on the size of the excavation. For a discharge from an aboveground tank at least
2 samples will need to be collected though the actual number of samples will depend on the size of the excavation.
- If my soil sample comes up below 1000 mg/kg for extractable petroleum hydrocarbons (EPH), what work do I still need to do?
Once a discharge is discovered, the Heating Oil Tank System Remediation Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:26F) require the collection of at least 5 samples from
the excavation (one at each sidewall and one at the base) depending on the size of the excavation. If the appropriate number of samples were
collected and the results for all the samples were less than 1,000 mg/kg for EPH then no further remediation of soils is required.
- My contractor says that my soil samples came back below standards but a ground water sample is still needed. Is that true?
The Heating Oil Tank System Remediation Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:26F) require a ground water investigation when any portion of the heating oil tank system is located within
the seasonal high ground water table or within two feet of either ground water or bedrock or if the excavation extends to within two feet of either bedrock or ground
- What are the soil requirements?
Once a discharge is discovered, the Heating Oil Tank System Remediation Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:26F) require the collection of at least 5 samples
from the excavation (one at each sidewall and one at the base) depending on the size of the excavation.
- What is remediation?
"Remediation" or "remediate" means all necessary actions to investigate and cleanup or respond to any known, suspected, or threatened discharge, including,
as necessary, the preliminary assessment, site investigation, remedial investigation and remedial action (Technical Requirements for Site Remediation at N.J.A.C. 7:26E-1.8.).
- What needs to be included in a Remedial Action Report?
The complete details of what is required in a remedial action report can be found in Subchapter 7 of the Heating Oil Tank System Remediation Rules
(N.J.A.C. 7:26F). However, an abbreviated version can be found in Section K - Remedial Action Report Checklist - of the UHOT form.
- When is a soil remediation required?
Soil remediation is required when there is a discharge. After discovery of a discharge, the tank owner is required to notify the DEP Hotline and hire an environmental
professional. Signs of a discharge include visual and olfactory observations, field screening, or analyses by a laboratory of soil or ground water samples which
indicate the presence of contamination in the soil or ground water immediately beneath or in the immediate vicinity of the heating oil tank.
- Who can conduct an investigation/remediation associated with a leaking tank?
To investigate/remediate a leaking UHOT, environmental professionals must either be a certified subsurface evaluator (SSE) working for an UST Firm
certified in subsurface evaluation OR a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP). Once the discharge is identified, the SSE is required to
be present when sampling or excavation takes place. An LSRP can oversee and sign off on subsurface work in place of having an SSE present onsite.
- How long does it take the DEP to issue a NFA letter?
Depending on the volume of reports in house, typically the DEP takes about 2-4 weeks to review a complete package (Remedial Action Report and UHOT form via email
along with a paid fee). If there are no deficiencies, the DEP will issue the NFA letter and send the NFA to the tank owner and the environmental professional via
email. If there are deficiencies, the DEP will reach out to the environmental professional to resolve any issues. If there are any questions on the status of the
case, you may call the DEP at (609) 633-0544.
- Status of cleanup?
Typically the DEP receives the Remedial Action Report for cases after the remediation is completed. Contact your environmental professional for a status update
prior to a Remedial Action Report being submitted to the DEP.
- Was a NFA ever issued for my property?
You may search DEP's records by street address using the DEP's DataMiner report.
After the report runs you will get a screen titled, "SRP Site by Address". Click on the "Click for Details..." under the Activity Information column.
The next screen will be the Site Detail Report screen. Click on the "Click for Details..." under the More Info column. The next screen will be the
SRP CASE OVERSIGHT REPORT screen. Look for the Case Status and Case Status Date fields. If a NFA letter was issued you will see "NFA-A (Unrestricted Use)"
in this field. Otherwise it will show a different case status.
- Was an UST removed from my property?
The removal of an unregulated heating oil tank is governed under New Jersey's Uniform Construction Code (UCC). The UCC permits are typically issued by a municipality.
As such, contact your municipality and submit a request pursuant to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) for copies of any permits issued for tank removal(s).
- When does the DEP need to be notified of a leaking tank?
Upon discovery of a discharge, the DEP must be notified immediately (within 15 minutes) by reporting the discharge to the hotline at 1-877-WARNDEP (1-877-927-6337).
The homeowner or contractor can report the leaking tank.
- Why did the contractor call the DEP Hotline?
The Underground Storage of Hazardous Substances (UST) Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:14B) require that contractors certified for closure call the DEP Hotline upon the discovery of a
- What is the Case Number/Incident Number?
The Case Number or Incident Number is more formally known as the Communication Center Number. It is structured with the date and time YY-MM-DD-HHMM-SS. For example,
the Communication Center Number 22-01-01-0100-30 indicates a call to the DEP Hotline received in the year 2022, month of January, day 1 at 1:00 am at the 30 second
To look up an incident number via address run the DEP's DataMiner report.
- What is the status of my case (NFA)?
To get the status of a case you can search by street address using the DataMiner report.
- After the report runs, you will get a screen titled, "SRP Site by Address". Click on the "Click for Details..." under the Activity Information column.
- The next screen will be the "Site Detail Report" screen. Click on the "Click for Details..." under the More Info column.
The next screen will be the SRP CASE OVERSIGHT REPORT" screen. Look for the Case Status and Case Status Date fields. If a NFA letter was issued you will see
"NFA-A (Unrestricted Use)" in this fields. Otherwise it will show a different case status.
- How does my case get closed?
Once the remediation is completed, the certified company will prepare a Remedial Action Report and submit it to the DEP with a signed and certified UHOT Form. The
DEP generates an invoice for a non-refundable $400 review fee which can be paid online. Once the report and form are submitted and the fee is paid, the DEP reviews
the submittal to determine if the remediation was conducted in accordance with the DEP's regulations and guidance. If the remediation is properly conducted, the DEP
will issue a No Further Action (NFA) Letter. The NFA Letter "closes out" the incident that was generated by the call to the DEP hotline.
- How do I get a copy of my NFA letter?
If the NFA letter was issued September 2015 or later, check DEP's dataminer:
If the DataMiner report did not contain the NFA or if the NFA letter was issued prior to September 2015, contact DEP's Office of Records Access at:
www.nj.gov/dep/opra/. Click "Submit an Online OPRA Records Request".
- Does my homeowner's insurance cover the tank removal and/or remediation?
It is beneficial to determine if your insurance covers the tank removal or any potential third-party impact. Contact the insurance company prior to removing the tank
and provide updates as appropriate if the tank is found to be leaking, as some insurance companies will cover an investigation to determine if the discharge has
impacted neighboring properties.
- Is there state funding for tank removals?
On August 30, 1997, Governor Whitman signed the law establishing the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Remediation, Upgrade and Closure Fund (UST Fund) within
the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and administered jointly with the DEP. The UST Fund was created to provide financial assistance to eligible
owners and operators of leaking petroleum underground storage tanks. Please be advised that new applications for leaking Unregulated USTs (which includes all
residential Heating Oil USTs) will continue to be accepted and acknowledged but shall not be reviewed or processed at this time due to insufficient funds. They
will be date stamped at the time of receipt and processed when funding becomes available. Currently there is a 3.5 year wait on all new applications being received
by the DEP. In addition, effective May 3, 2011, the UST Fund will no longer accept or process Non-leaking UST Fund applications.
- Where can I find out about the UST Fund?
- Does the DEP audit contractors?
Yes. The DEP has an audit program of tank removal contractors wherein the DEP requests a certified UST firm's schedule and attends selected heating oil
tank removals. Also, the homeowner has the option to request that their tank removal be audited by the DEP.
- Do I need a permit to remove a previously abandoned tank?
The UCC does not require a permit for a tank that has been out of service for a long period of time (as per DCA Bulletin 95-1B and further
detailed in the Summer 2021 Code Communicator). When available, the DEP recommends that the homeowner acquire a permit to remove
a previously abandoned tank. Homeowners should contact their municipality for further guidance.
- What happens if the previously abandoned tank has holes but no signs of a discharge?
This issue is addressed in Volume 34, Number 1 of the Department of Community Affairs Construction Code Construction Code Communicator
which provides guidance on when to Call the DEP Hotline for Unregulated Heating Oil Tanks (UHOTs).
- What happens if the previously abandoned tank has holes and fails inspection with signs of a discharge?
If there are any signs of a discharge, the DEP hotline must be notified immediately, and the owner must hire the appropriate environmental professional in accordance
with the Heating Oil Tank System Remediation rules to complete the remediation of the discharge.
- I am removing my septic tank. Does it need to go through the UHOT program?
The DEP only issues NFA letters for Unregulated Heating Oil Tanks. Septic tanks do not fall in that category. However, check with your municipality's construction
office for any local requirements.
- Where can I find a copy of the Site Remediation regulations?
- What are the regulations for discharges from home heating oil tanks?
Heating Oil Tank System Remediation Rules ("HOTS", N.J.A.C. 7:26F)
- What is the phone number for the DEP HOTLINE?
1-877-WARNDEP (1-877-927-6337) 24-hrs, toll free
- What do I do if my certification has expired?
Your certification may be renewed within 90 days of the expiration date, provided you have taken the training/refresher course on the DEP's
rules and regulations and fulfilled all renewal requirements. You must submit a copy of the course completion certificate to the Bureau of Licensing
and Registration. Otherwise, you will need to re-apply for certification. During the 90-day "grace" period, you are not certified and may not
perform services on an UST or UHOT [UST: N.J.A.C. 7:14B-13.7(d), UHOT: N.J.A.C. 7:14B-16.8(d)]. For more information see the DEP's web page
for Underground Storage Tank Certification.
- When is there going to be a SSE test?
The Underground Storage Tank Subsurface Evaluator Certification Examination is offered through Rutgers University. See the
Listserv Archives for more information.