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LUST Trust Fund and Cost Recovery

The federal Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Trust Fund was created by Congress to finance UST cleanups for which no viable owner or operator can be found. In the event that the LUST Trust Fund money is used to clean up a release and it is determined that there is a viable party responsible for the release, EPA may take a cost recovery action.

Cost Recovery

If EPA or states learn that a viable party owner or operator exists, they may seek to recover money spent for the cleanup under section 9003(h) of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

Recoverable costs include the following:

  • cleanup;
  • temporary or permanent relocation of residents;
  • alternative household water supplies; and
  • any exposure assessment.

EPA takes a person or party's ability to pay into consideration when recovering costs. Inability to pay must be demonstrated by the owner or operator. Misrepresentation of one’s financial situation enables EPA to recover all cleanup costs.

EPA may use financial models to make the ability to pay determination, which are available on the Agency's penalty and financial models website. More information on ability to pay is also available from the Agency's Overview of Ability to Pay Guidance and Models factsheet.

The statute of limitations for recovering cleanup costs is the standard five years for a federal civil action.

Learn More: LUST enforcement authorities

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