Frequent Questions

Is household heating fuel exempt from the Sections 311 and 312 requirements?

Section 311(e)(3) exempts, "any substance to the extent it is used for personal, family or household purposes, or is present in the same form and concentration as a product packaged for distribution and use by the general public."  This household product exemption does not apply to the use of household heating oil at business buildings for heating purposes.  This exemption was intended by Congress and EPA to apply to packaged products as opposed to substances transported in bulk, that are distributed to the general public in a form with which the general public is familiar.  

EPA stated in the preamble to the final regulations, "Thus a substance may be packaged in small containers when distributed as a household product but transported or stored in bulk quantities when used for other purposes.  Even though in the same concentration as the household product, a substance may pose much greater hazards when present in significantly larger quantities.  In addition, while the general public may be familiar with the hazards posed by small packages of hazardous materials, they may not be as aware of the hazards posed by or likely location of the same substances when transported or stored in bulk" 52 FR 38344, 38348 (October 15, 1987).

Fuel oil used for heating business buildings is not transported or distributed in small containers.  Rather, the heating oil is transported in bulk by truck and dispensed into storage tanks at the business address.  Just as the heating oil is not "packaged" when being transported in bulk by truck, it is not "packaged" when dispensed into a storage tank at the business site.  

Although heating oil is present in the same concentration and used for the same purposes at both household and a business, only fuel oil used at a household would be exempt and only under the first clause of the exemption ("any substance to the extent it is used for personal, family or household purposes").  Therefore, heating oil used at business buildings is not exempt from Sections 311 and 312 reporting requirements.

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