Special Topics in Environmental Management

States Are Serious About Oil Spill Reporting

Under the Massachusetts Contingency Planning (MCP) requirements, notification thresholds have been established for 2-hour, 72-hour, and 120-day-type releases.

2-Hour Notice

Notice is required as soon as possible but not more than 2 hours after obtaining knowledge that a release of oil meets one or more of the following characteristics:

  • A sudden, continuous, or intermittent release to the environment of oil that is listed at 310 CMR 40.1600 when the quantity of the release is equal to or greater than the applicable RQ and it is likely that the release occurred within any period of 24 consecutive hours or less;
  • A sudden, continuous, or intermittent release to the environment of oil that is listed in 310 CMR 40.1600 when the quantity of the release is unknown, it is likely that the quantity of the release is equal to or greater than the applicable RQ, and it is likely that the release occurred within any period of 24 consecutive hours or less;
  • A sudden, continuous, or intermittent release of any quantity of oil or waste oil that is listed at 310 CMR 40.1600 that results in the appearance of a sheen on surface water;
  • A release indicated by the measurement of oil and/or hazardous material in a private drinking water supply well at concentrations equal to or greater than an RC;
  • Any release in any quantity or concentration that poses or could pose an imminent hazard; and
  • Any release that is indirectly discharged by means of discharge to a stormwater drainage system or sanitary sewerage system.

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 A notice within 2 hours is also required after knowledge that a threat of release that meets one or more of the following is obtained:

  • A threat of release of oil listed at 310 CMR 40.1600 or that exhibits characteristics described in 310 CMR 40.0347 when it is likely that the release threatened is about to occur and it is likely that the quantity of the release, if it occurred, would be equal to or greater than the applicable RQ; and
  • A threat of release to the environment listed in 310 CMR 40.1600 or described in 310 CMR 40.0347, that poses or could pose an imminent hazard, regardless of the quantity likely to be released

 72-Hour Notice

A 72-hour notice is required for releases that meet one or more of the following:

  • A release to the environment indicated by the presence of subsurface nonaqueous phase liquid having a measured thickness equal to or greater than one-half inch;
  • A release to the environment indicated by the presence of oil or hazardous waste within 10 feet of the exterior wall of an underground storage tank;
  • A release indicated by the measurement of oil and/or hazardous materials in the groundwater at concentrations equal to or greater than RQ within the zone 1 of a public water supply well or within 500 feet of a private water supply well;
  • A release within groundwater of equal to or greater than 5 milligrams per liter of total volatile compounds at any point located within 30 feet of a school or occupied residential structure where the groundwater table is less than 15 feet below the surface of the ground; and
  • A Condition of Substantial Release Migration, where such condition is associated with a release for which notification otherwise is or has at any time in the past been required.

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 120-Day Notice

A 120-day notice is required for the following:

  • A release indicated by the measurement of oil and/or waste oil in an amount equal to or greater than the applicable RC where the total contiguous volume of the oil and/or waste oil contaminated soil is equal to or greater than 2 cubic yards;
  • A release indicated by the measurement of oil in groundwater in an amount equal to or greater than the applicable RC; and
  • A release indicated by the presence of a subsurface nonaqueous phase liquid having a measured thickness equal to or greater than one-eighth inch and less than one-half inch.
  • Almost all states have their own set of spill reporting requirements that include reporting agency, timeframe, and threshold.

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