TCEQ Environmental Programs
TCEQ Leaking Petroleum Storage Tank Program (LPST)
Cleanups of contamination that are caused by spills, leaks, or other releases of petroleum substances or hazardous substances from regulated underground and aboveground storage tanks is regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
According to the TCEQ’s website, the Remediation Division provides oversight the assessment and cleanup of leaking petroleum storage tanks (LPSTs), which include sites that are handled by the responsible party (RP) and by the state (State-Lead). The program’s mission is to supervise the cleanup of spills from regulated storage tanks by recording and evaluating all reported incidents of releases of petroleum and other hazardous substances from underground and above-ground storage tanks. The goal is to assure that the public is not exposed to hazardous levels of contamination by requiring the removal of the contamination to levels protective of human health and the environment.
The owner or operator of a regulated storage tank is required to notify the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) within 24 hours of any discharge or spill that causes or could cause pollution to the waters of the State of Texas.
To ensure that a release incident has been abated, and that the contamination resulting from the release incident is properly assessed and remediated, the Remediation Division monitors all reported incidents, from initial environmental assessments, through corrective action plans and requests for closure.
To learn more about the Leaking Petroleum Storage Tank Program please visit the TCEQ’s website at: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/remediation/pst_rp/pst.html
TCEQ Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP)
The Texas VCP provides administrative, technical, and legal incentives to encourage the cleanup of contaminated sites in Texas. Since all non-responsible parties, including future lenders and landowners, receive protection from liability to the state of Texas for cleanup of sites under the VCP, most of the constraints for completing real estate transactions at those sites are eliminated. As a result, many unused or under used properties may be restored to economically productive or community beneficial use. Also under the VCP, site cleanups follow a streamlined approach to reduce future human and environmental risk to safe levels.
The VCP Offers Many Benefits and Incentives to Site Cleanup
- VCP cleanup are more lenient than TCEQ environmental enforcement for Responsible Party Remediation.
- Allows owners of properties that have been impacted with chemicals to clean-up their sites prior to sale or transfer of ownership to family to minimize risk and retain value.
- Facilitates incentives for bona fide prospective purchasers to purchase and cleanup sites that have laid dormant or abandoned, and rejuvenates life to areas where commercial properties have been inactive for years.
- Facilitates commercial lending by allowing property owners to enter the sites into the VCP as part of the financing or refinancing agreement with banks and other financial institutions.
TCEQ Innocent Owner/Operator Program
The Texas Innocent Owner/Operator Program (IOP), Provides a certificate to an innocent owner or operator if their property is contaminated as a result of a release or migration of contaminants from a source or sources not located on the property, and they did not cause or contribute to the source or sources of contamination.
Like the Texas Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), the IOP can be used as a redevelopment tool or as a tool to add value to a contaminated property by providing an Innocent Owner/Operator Certificate (IOC). However, unlike the VCP release of liability, IOCs are not transferable to future owners/operators. Future innocent owners or operators are eligible to enter the IOP and may receive an IOC only after they become an owner or operator of the site.
Becoming Eligible for Immunity
To become eligible for immunity, the innocent owner or operator must grant reasonable access to the property for future investigation or remediation, agree on necessary restrictions to protect human health and the environment, if appropriate, and demonstrate that:
- Contamination source is not located on or at the property or caused by the owner or operator.
- New owner did not acquire the property from the person that caused the release
- If the property was purchased from the owner of the source property after September 1, 1997, the effective date of the IOP law, the applicant must demonstrate he did not know that the property was contaminated at the site it was acquired.
- The property has become contaminated because of a release or migration of contaminants from a source or sources not located on or at the property;
- Current owner/ operator has not caused or contributed to the source or sources of the contamination;
- He or she did not acquire the property from the person that caused the release; or if the property was purchased from the owner of the source property after September 1, 1997, the effective date of the IOP law, the applicant must demonstrate he did not know or have reason to know of the contamination at the time the property was acquired.
If the owner/operator is eligible to receive an IOC from the TCEQ. Parties may terminate their participation in the IOP at any time by written notice to the program.
Avoid the pitfalls many others encounter when purchasing or selling a commercial property. Past uses of a site may have impacted soil, groundwater, or surface water. Be sure to retain an experienced, licensed, and insured Environmental consultant to properly assess the site, and determine your potential environmental liabilities before closing. A thorough and properly conducted Environmental assessment may also reduce the risks involved when selling a parcel of land.
- Always perform the necessary Environmental Due Diligence (Phase I and Phase II) prior to purchasing or refinancing a property.
- If selling the property, the buyer usually must pay for this as well.
- Make sure you have retained an environmental consultant who has the necessary professional licenses, experience, and understanding of the correct ways to correctly assess your site.