Frequently Asked Questions


In an effort to prevent leaks and spills, the New York State Legislature passed the Petroleum Bulk Storage (PBS) Law (Article 17, Title 10 of the Environmental Conservation Law) requiring DEC to develop and enforce a State code for storage and handling of petroleum. The resulting regulations are Parts 612, 613, & 614 of Title 6 of the New York State Code of Rules and Regulations (6 NYCRR Parts 612, 613, & 614). Part 612 covers registration and notification requirements. Among other things, Part 613 requires owners to periodically test underground systems, inspect aboveground storage systems and report test results to DEC. Any equipment found leaking must be repaired or replaced in accordance with Part 614, the standards for new or substantially modified facilities, or closed in accordance with section 613.9.


If a tank leaks of petroleum, three to four soil trenches are created around the buried tank. Each soil sample is evaluated on the site for petroleum. The sample indicating the highest field screen reading is submitted to a New York certified laboratory for testing. Soil trenches allow you to help quantify the extent of the oil in the ground pertaining to independent laboratory analysis.


Heating oil tank installed at a residential property is exempt from Federal Regulations but there are exceptions. The first exception is if a home heating oil tank releases oil into the environment, then the owner of the tank is no longer exempt from the provisions of environmental regulation.

The owner would need to contact Millennium Tank Maintenance to address the source of the spill, prevent it from spreading, and report the incident to the appropriate agency

If a heating oil discharge of any size has occurred at your home, the owner is required to report the leak to the New York Department of Environmental Protection (NYDEP). The Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) which is a Federal agency and does not have immediate jurisdiction for these types of incidents.


In most homes (around 85%) there are signs of an in ground oil tank such, for example- a visible vent and/or filler pipes, disconnected oil lines coming through the foundation wall which were the supply and return lines from the heating oil tank, a concrete channel in the basement floor that leads to the furnace area. Any of these physical signs is an indication of a tank that has been removed or there is an existing tank in the ground.

If the house was built between the 1930's and the 1990's, there is a good chance the property had oil heat at some time. At the turn of the century homes had coal heat, which was both dirty and labor intensive. After Word War II, oil was readily available and many homes converted to oil, if only to get away from having to shovel coal.

The staff at Millennium Tank Maintenance is trained to look for these evidence as well as other key signs of removed or existing tank. They are equipped with a metal detectors, radio frequency locators, and a ground penetrating radar unit to evaluate a property for a suspect tank.


Since the past owner provided no documents about the condition of the soil in the tank excavation, the current should test the soil to discover levels of contamination (heating oil) in the area around the underground tank. The responsibility for cleaning up the contamination rests solely with the current homeowner. The regulations read that whoever owns the property owns the problem.


Only underground PBS tanks must be tested for tightness. Individual underground tanks and connecting piping systems that are larger than 1,100 gallons and that store fuels or motor lubricants such as gasoline, heating oil, heavy residual fuel oils (except #5 and #6 fuel oil), kerosene or reprocessed waste oil used as a fuel or lubricant, must be tested periodically. These include manifolded systems (tanks which are interconnected by piping) where combined capacity of the manifolded tanks and piping exceeds 1,100 gallons.
Tanks in subterranean vaults or basements which cannot be visually inspected are considered underground tanks and must be tested. However, tanks in subterranean vaults which are accessible for visual inspection or wrapped tanks in New York City that have weep holes that can be visually inspected for leakage, are considered aboveground, and therefore do not have to be tested. However, these aboveground tanks must be inspected. (See section 613.6 for more information.)
No periodic testing is required for:
  • Tanks storing #5 or #6 fuel oil;
  • Systems consisting of corrosion-resistant* tanks and piping, with leak monitoring; and
  • New systems installed in compliance with the standards for new construction (6NYCRR Part 614).
* Corrosion-resistant systems include those constructed of fiberglass-reinforced-plastic (FRP); steel protected by fiberglass (FRP) coatings, or steel that were installed with sacrificial anodes, or impressed current systems (cathodically protected). Steel tank and piping systems that have been retrofitted with cathodic protection or an interior lining are not considered corrosion resistant and must be tested whether or not any other leak detection system is in use on the tank system.


Unprotected tanks, such as bare steel, asphalt coated, or painted steel tanks, must be tested when 10 years old. Corrosion-resistant tanks, such as fiberglass or cathodically protected tanks, must be tested when 15 years old. All tanks which require testing must be retested every five (5) years from the date of the last test. Tanks and pipes which were installed corrosion-resistant and are equipped with leak monitoring systems do not require testing but do require periodic monitoring of the leak detection system and inventory monitoring.
Initial tests for tanks of unknown age and for tanks whose test was due at the start of the Petroleum Bulk Storage Program, were due for testing at the end of the two-year "phase-in" period, which was December 27, 1987. Tanks must now be tested on or before the due date which is listed on the five (5)-year registration certificate issued by DEC. (Note: Due dates might not appear on the certificate for manifolded tanks where individual tanks are less than 1,101 gallons: however, if the combined capacity is over 1,100 gallons, these tanks must be tested.)
When the ownership of a PBS facility is transferred, the new owner should submit the registration application along with any test results for tanks tested by the previous owner within the past five (5) years, in accordance with section 613.5.
Owners who fail to test tanks properly before the due date may be subject to civil, administrative and criminal penalties.


Under the law, the tank owner (not operator) are responsible for having tanks and piping tested periodically by a qualified technician. However, an operator may be held liable for penalties for operating a tank or tanks which have not been properly tested. In New York City, the City Fire Department must also be contacted prior to testing motor fuel tanks and piping. Operators of regulated facilities should remind owners of these testing requirements.


A tightness test is a means of determining whether an underground storage tank and its piping system are leaking. DEC requires using a test that can detect a tank or piping leak (leak threshold) of 0.05 gallons per hour (gph) or smaller. The test(s) used must detect leaks from the entire tank system - liquid portion of the tank, the vapor space above the product, and all underground product piping. There are four test types or combination of test types that can be used to accomplish this:
  • A volumetric overfill test (a separate product piping test may also be needed depending on the tank system configuration);
  • A volumetric underfill test in conjunction with a non-volumetric ullage (vapor space) test and product piping test;
  • A non-volumetric vacuum test (a separate product piping test may also be needed depending on the tank system configuration); and
  • A non-volumetric tracer test.
There are many variables which can affect the ability of each of these tests to detect a leak. Volumetric tests require tanks be taken out-of-service for a period of time so that the product in the tank has a chance to stabilize. One of the common variables for almost all test methods is the need to know if groundwater is around the tank. In order to compensate for the effect of groundwater around the tank, it's depth must be determined on site by using either a well or well point (without this information on the test report, the test is invalid).
Because some tests compensate for variables better than others, DEC has compiled a list of tank tests which meet the requirements set forth in the regulations and which give results that are acceptable to the Department. A copy of this list is available from the DEC Regional Offices. A list of all leak detection methods, including tank tightness tests, with a specification page that indicates how each leak detection method must be used is available at the web site for the National Work Group on Leak Detection Evaluations (See "Links Leaving DEC's Website" on the right menu of this page). Tests must be conducted in accordance with this specification in order to be acceptable. [When looking at the website, look under "Method Index" and then one of the following categories: volumetric overfill, volumetric underfill, non-volumetric tank tightness test method (tracer), non-volumetric tank tightness test method (ullage), non-volumetric tank tightness test method (vacuum), or line tightness test method.]
There may be instances, as with underground tanks larger than 50,000 gallons, where it is technically impossible to perform a tank test with a leak threshold of 0.05 gph. In such cases, the owner must perform an alternative test or inspection which is acceptable to the Department. You must contact the regional office for further information.


We would determine the source of the leak, whether tank or piping. Once the source is isolated, the tank must be promptly emptied, and the leaking tank or pipe taken out-of-service and repaired or replaced in accordance with the PBS regulations.