Frequent Questions

Specific substances excluded under CERCLA petroleum exclusion

What substances are specifically excluded from CERCLA regulation by the petroleum exclusion?

EPA interprets CERCLA section 101(14) to exclude crude oil and fractions of crude oil - including the hazardous substances, such as benzene, that are indigenous in those petroleum substances - from the definition of hazardous substance. Under this interpretation, petroleum includes hazardous substances that are normally mixed with or added to crude oil or crude oil fractions during the refining process. This includes indigenous hazardous substances, the levels of which are increased as a normal part of the refining process. However, hazardous substances that are added to petroleum or that increase in concentration as a result of contamination of the petroleum during use are not considered part of the petroleum, and are therefore regulated under CERCLA. For example, releases of oils that have had hazardous substances added to them subsequent to the petroleum refining process are not excluded from CERCLA regulation. In addition, some oils are regulated under CERCLA because they are specifically listed. For example, 40 CFR 302.4, Table 302.4 specifically lists a number of waste oils (e.g., F010, and K048 through K052) and their RQs. If these waste oils are released in quantities equal to or greater than their RQs, the release must be reported. The definition of hazardous substance also excludes natural gas, natural gas liquids, liquified natural gas, and synthetic gas usable for fuel. Oil discharges have their own reporting requirements under the Clean Water Act.

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