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HIGHWAY SPILL REMEDIATION and CLEAN-UP PROGRAM

Frequently Asked Questions


QUESTION:    Who has to be licensed pursuant to the Oklahoma Highway Remediation and Cleanup Services Act (Act)?
ANSWER:        Any business or person who owns or operates a business that provides services to contain, remove and/or remediate spills of hazardous materials on highways in Oklahoma. Exceptions:  this Act does not apply to spills from rail transportation, vehicles or cargo at locations involving railroad tracks or spills from vehicles or cargo under the control of an electric utility.

QUESTION:    Is there an exception to requiring a licensed clean-up contractor to do the remediation?
ANSWER:        In cases where time is critical, the law enforcement officer may contact any licensed highway spill remediation service or any non-licensed provider of a service needed to resolve the emergency. 

QUESTION:    Can political subdivisions be exempted from licensing requirements?
ANSWER:        No, the statute does not provide for such an exception, however nothing in this Act prevents response officials from taking protective and stabilization measures deemed necessary to alleviate an imminent threat to human health or the environment.

QUESTION:    If a licensed clean-up contractor uses a sub-contractor, does the sub-contractor need to be licensed, too?
ANSWER:        Yes.   The statute specifically says that anyone doing the clean-up must be licensed.  However, non-licensed contractors could provide services such as hauling in clean fill or sod as long as they did not handle hazardous materials or enter the hot zone.

QUESTION:    Can a sub-contractor not licensed pursuant to this Act pick up and transport hazardous waste from a remediation site?
ANSWER:        A sub-contractor not licensed by this Act but who is licensed by DOT to transport hazardous waste may transport waste from the remediation site as long as a contractor licensed under this Act loads the waste.

QUESTION:    Can companies (including oil and gas companies), which routinely handle and transport hazardous chemicals, be excluded from the licensure requirements when cleaning up their own spills?
ANSWER:        No.  However, non-hazardous materials spilled anywhere or hazardous materials spilled on private property could be cleaned up by the company without the need for a license.

QUESTION:    How long is my license good for?
ANSWER:        Licenses are effective from the day of licensure and expire on December 31 of the same year.  However, licenses issued prior to January 1, 2007, will expire December 31, 2007.

QUESTION:    Do I put the license number on my vehicles?
ANSWER:        All vehicles used in spill clean-up and remediation must display the license number on each side of the vehicle in letters and numbers at least 4 inches high.  Example:  DEQ #1234.

QUESTION: How do you define hazardous materials?
ANSWER:     For these rules, hazardous materials means any spilled substance that is or has the potential to be harmful to humans or the environment. Such substances include, but are not limited to, explosives, flammable and/or combustible liquids, acids, caustics, poisons, containerized gases, toxic chemicals, hazardous materials as defined in 49 CFR 171.8 and hazardous wastes as defined in 40 CFR Part 260.

QUESTION:  How is this different from the DOT definition?
ANSWER:     Hazardous material in these rules includes all cargo intended exclusively for home use. For instance, the cargo in a truck en route to a Wal-Mart store would not be considered hazardous material as defined by DOT definitions even though the cargo could be pesticides, herbicides, swimming pool chemicals, paints, solvents, etc.

QUESTION: Does the hazardous material definition include diesel in a saddle tank?
ANSWER:     The definition of hazardous material includes combustible liquids and diesel is a combustible liquid.

QUESTION: Does the definition of hazardous materials exempt: (1) exploration and production waste (E & P waste) and (2) crude oil?
ANSWER:      The current definition in 40 CFR Part 260, which is the only part of the definition of hazardous materials that relates to E & P waste, excludes E & P waste.  However, since crude oil is flammable, it is included as a hazardous material in our definition.

QUESTION: Can you quantify the size of a spill that would require clean-up by a licensed contractor?
ANSWER:     Since the risks vary greatly depending on toxicity of the spilled material, the location and proximity to water supplies or population centers, it would be impossible to quantify spills requiring clean-up. The lead official, with the input of DEQ when required or requested, will be responsible for determining the need for clean-up. When clean-up is indicated it must be done by a licensed clean-up service.

QUESTION: Who sets clean-up specs?
ANSWER:     Depending on the substance spilled, clean-up specifications would be set by one of three state agencies (Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, or Oklahoma Corporation Commission).

QUESTION: Who tracks training?
ANSWER:     The rules require that employees who participate in the remediation of spills must be certified as a hazardous materials technician (29 CFR 1910.120).  Additionally, the license holder must certify that he/she will only allow employees who are certified to conduct clean-up activities.  Employees, at the request of DEQ personnel or local law enforcement, must provide proof of their current hazardous materials technician certification.

QUESTION: “Law Enforcement Officer” is defined as the “Lead Official” in the Emergency Response Act.  What is the responsibility of the “Lead Official”?
ANSWER:     The Emergency Response Act states that the lead official is the person designated by the contact agency to be the official in charge of the on-site management of the emergency.  It goes on to say that the contact agency is either a municipal fire department or the Oklahoma Highway Patrol as determined by the location of an incident as follows:

Location Contact Agency
  Inside corporate municipal limits Municipal Fire Department  
  Outside corporate limits on private property Closest Municipal Fire Department  
  Outside corporate limits on federal/state highway, public property, county road, or a railroad Oklahoma Highway Patrol  

QUESTION: How is highway defined?
ANSWER: The definition of “highway” found in 47 O.S. § 1-122 includes “the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.”