Leaking Underground Storage Tanks

For safety, tanks containing petroleum products and other hazardous substances are placed underground to lessen the risk of explosion. Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUSTs) and their associated piping can release dangerous vapors into buildings or contaminate soil, surface water, and ground water.

Owner/Operator Responsibility

All leaks require an investigation and possibly a cleanup. The owner or operator of a leaking tank is ultimately responsible for the cleanup costs and any damages claimed. The type and amount of financial responsibility can vary, depending on owner-specific information.

Finding a Consultant

IDEM recommends you solicit bids from at least three consultants. Be sure that the consultant includes in the proposal the experience and qualifications of the people who will be doing the work. In Indiana, site investigation and cleanup activity reports must be signed by one of the following.

  • Registered Professional Engineer
  • Licensed Professional Geologist
  • Certified Hazardous Materials Manager
  • Registered Professional Soil Scientist

Make sure the consultant can perform the following in accordance with the LUST guidance and laws.

  • Provide equipment and services necessary to conduct site characterization or corrective action activities directly or with subcontractors.
  • Conduct site characterization activities necessary to determine the extent of soil and ground water contamination.
  • Follow proper sampling collection, handling, and chain-of-custody procedures.
  • Ensure that proper laboratory methods are used and proper quality assurance procedures are followed.
  • Obtain necessary manifests, approvals and permits for treatment, storage or disposal of contaminated material.
  • Prepare required reports and plans necessary to document site activities and proposed cleanups.
  • Prepare and submit claims for reimbursement to the Excess Liability Trust Fund program.
  • Provide references regarding prior experience performing related activities.

It's worth your while to ask other UST owners and operators about consultants they have hired. Many consultants can provide references to previous customers upon request. Talk with previous customers and ask if they were satisfied with prospective consultants’ work, expertise, technical and regulatory skills, promptness, client relations, etc.

UST removal can be performed by a contractor certified by the Indiana State Fire Marshal. But, if a petroleum release is documented, hiring an environmental contractor that specializes in site characterization and cleanup of LUST sites may be more cost -effective. Also keep in mind that while the lowest bid may be appealing, finding an experienced contractor who performs quality work will often be less expensive in the long run. The fact sheet titled “Selecting an Environmental Consultant or Contractor” (on the IDEM Fact Sheets page) provides more information.

Report Leaks or Suspected Leaks

If you suspect that a tank is leaking, or you notice indicators that suggest it, please contact IDEM within 24 hours of discovery and submit State Form 54487, LUST Initial Incident Report (on the IDEM Forms page).