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Used Oil

Introduction

Used oil is any oil, whether refined from crude or synthetic, that has been contaminated by physical or chemical impurities as a result of use. Typical uses include automotive and industrial lubricants, including spent motor oil, hydraulic fluids, refrigeration coolants, metalworking and cutting oils, and electrical insulating oil. Among the facilities generating used oil are vehicle repair shops, fleet maintenance facilities, industries, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions. Used oil is also generated by private citizens who change the motor oil on their own vehicles and are known as household do-it-yourself oil changers, or DIYs.

Do-it-yourselfer (DIY) Used Oil Recycling

New York State generally follows federal standards regulating all used oil facility types while at the same time state law provides numerous locations where a DIY (who is otherwise exempt from regulation) can return used oil for recycling. Under Article 23, Title 23 of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), any service establishment that sells at least 500 gallons per year of new oil and performs vehicle servicing must accept from the public at no charge up to 5 gallons of used oil per person per day. Retailers who don't service vehicles but sell at least 1,000 gallons per year of new oil must either accept used oil from the public, as service establishments do, or contract to have another service or retail establishment accept it on their behalf. Some municipalities in the state also collect DIY used oil as part of their Household Hazardous Waste Program.

Regulatory Format

The state's used oil regulations are located in two Subparts of 6 NYCRR: 374-2 and 360-14. Subpart 374-2 is based largely upon the RCRA-based federal used oil regulations, 40 CFR 279. Federally based management standards are provided in 374-2 for used oil generators, transporters and transfer facilities, processors and re-refiners, and for facilities that burn used oil for energy recovery. This Subpart also provides standards for marketing used oil as a fuel and for used oil disposal and contains the ECL-based requirements concerning acceptance of DIY used oil by service establishments and retailers. Subpart 360-14 provides permitting requirements for used oil processors, re-refiners, and transfer facilities and lists the types of facilities and operations that are exempt from permitting.

Recycling Presumption

Used oil regulations are based upon the "Recycling Presumption" of 374-2.2(a)(1), which states that used oil that acquired hazardous characteristics during its use as an oil (as a lubricant, for example) is exempt from hazardous waste regulation on the presumption that the oil will eventually be recycled. Mixing the oil with hazardous wastes or disposing the oil instead of recycling it invalidates the presumption. Provided that no mixing or disposal occurs, the oil is subject to its own set of regulatory standards, whether or not it displays any hazardous characteristics. Therefore, unlike other wastes, there is no need for a used oil generator to perform a hazardous waste determination upon the used oil being generated.

Storage Requirements

Used oil may be stored in tanks (stationary) or containers (portable), including drums. All aboveground tanks and containers must be kept in good condition and must not leak. Aboveground tanks, containers, and the fill pipes of underground tanks must be labeled "USED OIL", and aboveground tanks must be labeled with the tank's design and working capacity. The fill pipes of underground tanks must also be labeled with the tank's capacity. Underground tanks are subject to the requirements of the federal Underground Storage Tank (UST) regulations, 40 CFR 280. All aboveground and underground used oil tanks, regardless of capacity, are subject to the standards of the state's Petroleum Bulk Storage regulations, including registration of all used oil tanks, monthly visual inspection of aboveground tanks, and standards for new tank installations. Secondary containment is required for all containers and aboveground tanks at transfer, processing, re-refining, and burning facilities. At generator facilities, secondary containment is required for aboveground tanks whose capacity is10,000 gallons or greater and for smaller tanks if it can be reasonably expected that any leakage from them could contaminate the waters of the state. Even when not required, secondary containment at generator sites is strongly recommended.

Transportation Requirements

Transporters must comply with the standards of Section 374-2.5. In addition:

  • Any person transporting 500 pounds or more of used oil (approximately one 55 gallon drum) must obtain a Part 364 waste transporter permit from this Department and comply with those standards.
  • Transporters are also subject to federal Department of Transportation standards, 49 CFR 171 through 180.

Other Applicable Requirements

  • Used oil facilities requiring Solid Waste Management Facility permitting under Part 360 are also subject to Subpart 360-1.
  • In addition to the requirements of Section 374-2.7, burning used oil for energy recovery is subject to Part 201 and Subpart 225-2 of the Air regulations and may require permitting under that program.
  • Spillage of used oil is subject to the notification and clean-up standards of Article 12 of the Navigation Law.

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    Division of Environmental Remediation
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