For your convenience, our most common customer questions are answered right here.
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A: There are several things you can do:
A: One approach would be:
Hazardous Waste: More common than you think
Businesses That Generate Hazardous Waste
Contaminated Media, Human Health, and
Selected Chemicals — Common Uses and Sources
A: If you are a homeowner, you probably have concerns about the effects on your family and friends. If you own or manage a small business, you are probably concerned about your employees’ and customers’ well-being. Please check the web pages below for information about specific chemicals and their effects:
A: If you suspect that your drinking water is contaminated (i.e., you notice an unusual taste, odor, or change in quality or color), you might purchase bottled water or look for an alternate source of water. You might also check with your local health department or the state Department of Health to see if there are any health advisories in effect in your area.
A: Some common situations that we see frequently include: spills of hazardous substances, illegal drug Labs, Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUSTs), home heating oil tanks, and area-wide contamination problems.
A: Yes, real estate law requires disclosure of known contamination.
(It may be advisable to consult with a real estate attorney if your are buying / selling property that may have a history of contamination.)
A: It depends on the type of situation you are dealing with. For example:
Emergencies: If you encounter a situation that you believe is an emergency (such as an uncontrolled spill of a hazardous substance or drug lab), please go to the “How to Report a Spill” page immediately and follow the instructions there. This page includes telephone numbers and a list of questions you may be asked.
Tanks: Releases of hazardous substances from Leaking Underground Storage Tanks must be reported to Ecology within 24 hours of discovery.
For instructions about how to report leaking tank incidents, please visit the “How to Report Environmental Problems” page.
Please note that home heating oil tanks are not regulated by Ecology. Please contact the Pollution Liability Insurance Agency (PLIA) for more information about the latter.
All Other Incidents: Please see: How to Report Environmental Incidents for instructions. Please note that all other incidents of contamination or suspected contamination must be reported to Ecology within 90 days of discovery.
A: For emergency situations (spills of hazardous substances, drug labs), you can expect to be asked:
When reporting all other problems / incidents, you’ll need to provide:
A: Again, it depends on the type of situation you are dealing with:
Emergencies (Spills, Drug Labs): The Ecology Spill Response program and/or the Department of Health Drug Lab Cleanup Program and/or your local jurisdiction will evaluate and respond to emergency situations as quickly as possible.
Voluntary Cleanups (fee-based program): Reports received under the fee-based Voluntary Cleanup Program go into a queue in each regional office where they are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. The review process takes about six months to complete. A satisfactory report will receive a “No Further Action” determination. You will be contacted regarding further requirements for incomplete or unsatisfactory reports.
Tanks (Leaking Underground Storage Tanks or LUSTs): Reports of leaking tanks are referred to the Initial Investigations team for evaluation. You may be contacted for additional information. The investigator may visit the site to do an inspection or to collect samples. If petroleum products or other hazardous substances are present at actionable levels, action must be taken in a timely manner to remove them.
All Other Incidents: You may be contacted for follow-up information. Ecology will conduct an Initial Investigation within 90 days. The investigation may include a site visit and/or collection of environmental samples. Possible outcomes following the Initial Investigation include an Emergency Action, Interim Action, Site Hazard Assessment and Ranking, or a “No Further Action” decision.
A: The longer the problem goes unreported and unresolved, the greater the likelihood of worse problems developing. A few examples of things that might happen as a result of not reporting a problem include:
A: Under the Model Toxics Control Act , those who caused the contamination are held responsible for cleaning it up. Any past or present relationship with a contaminated site could result in liability for cleanup. A “potentially liable person” can be:
Frequently, property owners are motivated to do a cleanup (via the Voluntary Cleanup Program) because of:
Property owners may attempt to recover costs incurred while conducting a MTCA-equivalent cleanup from other Liable Parties. You are advised to consult a qualified environmental attorney if you wish to pursue this option.
A: One definition of a ‘hazardous substance’ is: any substance that, at a particular concentration or amount, is capable of causing harm to human health, other living organisms, and/or the environment.
You’ll need to determine whether you are dealing with ‘solid waste’ (garbage, junk, debris) or toxic / hazardous substances. Solid waste looks messy and may pose safety risks, but most likely wouldn’t require cleanup under the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA). Your local governmental agency (city or county) would be the most likely source of assistance for solid waste issues: Directory of County Health Departments / Districts (External Site)
The presence of toxic / hazardous substances is a much more serious issue.
For more detailed information, see also: Site Discovery & Reporting, Policy 300
A: The type of cleanup work done varies considerably according to the situation. Cleanups run the gamut from simple, routine cleanups to very large, complex cleanups. For residential properties and small businesses, the most often-used cleanup approach is to hire an environmental consulting firm to help you complete a Voluntary Cleanup.
Some things you can do yourself are described in the Small Spill Cleanup Guide
Some common cleanup methods that a cleanup contractor might use are described in:
If you are considering hiring a contractor, please see:
A: There can be significant costs involved in cleaning up contamination and costs vary considerably from one situation to the next. Some examples of costs you might incur include:
A: If you are working with an environmental consultant or contractor, they should be knowledgeable about how to properly dispose of hazardous materials. Otherwise, please check:
A: There are a few final details that need to be taken care of at the end of the cleanup process:
Disclaimer: This ‘Guide’ is provided as a service to the public. The information provided herein is intended to be helpful, but it is not exhaustive and the user may need to obtain information from additional sources. Although the ‘Guide’ has undergone review to ensure the quality of the information provided, there is no assurance that it is free from errors. This ‘Guide’ cannot be relied upon to create rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any party in litigation with the State of Kentucky