Information Sheet
Used Oil Collection Centers

issued: June 1996        contact: 800-452-1942

DEP estimates that 4.8 million gallons of used oil are discarded every year in Maine.  Improper disposal of used oil can cause major environmental damage.  Oil seeping into the ground contaminates soil, streams, rivers, lakes and drinking water.  One quart of spilled oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of fresh drinking water.  One pint of used motor oil seeping into a lake creates a one acre slick, preventing the replenishment of oxygen, blocking sunlight and impairing photosynthetic processes.

Used oil is recyclable

  • One gallon of used oil can be re-refined into 2.5 quarts of high quality motor oil.  Forty-two gallons of crude oil are needed to produce the same quantity.
  • The process of re-refining used oil required roughly two thirds of the energy needed to process crude oil into usable oil.
  • Used oil is a good fuel supplement.

Used Oil Collection Centers

In 1996 the Maine Legislature passed a law (PL 1995 Ch. 573) to encourage used oil recycling.  It provides incentives for establishing centers where used oil can be collected from the public.

If you wish to establish a used oil collection center, you may be eligible to obtain low interest loans or grants for purchasing aboveground used oil storage tanks.  The loan program is administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME).

In addition, the new law encourages collecting used oil from the public by reducing a potential financial risk.  Should the used oil be contaminated with hazardous waste (i.e. a "hot load"), disposal would be costly.  This law offers some relief under those circumstances if you have designed and operated your center as the law proscribes and if you have registered your operation with DEP.  Additional details are contained in the last section of this information sheet.

How does a used oil collection center register?

NOTE: Registration is strictly voluntary.  But to qualify for the relief above, it is necessary.

  • The owner or operator of a used oil collection center must register using a form provided by DEP.  This form must be hand-delivered or sent certified mail to the Department.  Photographs of the used oil collection center must accompany the registration form to clearly show that the design requirements of the law have been met.
  • If the applicable requirements of this section have not been met, DEP will notify the owner or operator no later than 30 days after the Department receives the completed registration form and photographs.  If DEP does not notify the applicant within the 30-day period, the center is deemed to be registered.
  • The owner or operator of a used oil collection center must file an amended registration form within 10 business days of any change in the information provided on the initial registration form.

What are the design requirements?

  • Collection tanks that are located outdoors must be: watertight, secured to prevent the tank from tipping over and must either:
    A. Be double walled; or
    B. Have an alternative means of impervious secondary containment that is watertight and has the capacity to hold a minimum of 110% of the contents of the tank.  A roof over both the tank and the secondary containment is required.
  • Collection tanks that are located inside a building must: have rigid piping and a funnel that is rigidly attached, be secured to prevent the tank from tipping over and must either:
    A. Be double walled; or
    B. Have an alternative means of impervious secondary containment that has the capacity to hold a minimum of 110% of the contents of the tank.
  • Collection tanks must be constructed of steel, fiberglass or other nonporous material.
  • The total aggregate capacity of all used oil tanks at a used oil collection center may not exceed either 660 gallons or the total aggregate capacity of the used oil tanks at the center on June 27, 1996, whichever is greater.
  • Collection tanks must be located in a manner that permits them to be readily inspected for evidence of leaks.
  • Collection tanks may not be located where any leaks could drain into sewers, floor drains or storm water catch basins.  They may not be located in areas subject to flooding.
  • Collection tanks must be maintained in good condition with no severe rusting, no apparent structural defects or deterioration and no visible leaks.
  • Collection tanks must be clearly labeled or marked with the words "Used Oil".
  • Collection tanks must be located so that they are not exposed to a spill or leak of a Class I or Class II liquid.  (Class 1 liquids have a flash point below 100º F and Class II liquids have a flash point at or above 100º and below 140º F).
  • Collection tanks must be installed in accordance with applicable local ordinances.
  • Collection tanks must be protected from vehicular traffic either by their location or through placement of bollards or similar devices.

What are the operational requirements?

The owners and operators of used oil collection centers:

  • May accept no more than 20 gallons of used oil from any entity or individual in a 24-hour period;
  • Must inspect each load of used oil by sight or scent before accepting the used oil for collection to ensure that only waste oil is added to the tank;
  • Must keep the used oil collection tank locked, except when used oil is being added or removed;
  • Must supervise the addition of used oil to the tank;
  • Must provide ongoing maintenance and repairs at the used oil collection center to avoid any environmental hazards such as spills, leaks, discharges, fires and explosions;
  • May offer used oil only to persons licensed with DEP as waste oil transporters (for a list of waste oil transporters contact the Department at 1-800-452-1942);
  • Must report to the Department of Public Safety (1-800-482-0777) within 2 hours of becoming aware of a discharge and immediately take action to contain and remove any discharges of used oil; and
  • Must notify DEP no later than 24 hours after discovering that used oil delivered to or collected at the center is a hazardous waste.

What happens if a collection center receives a "hot load" from the public?

A "hot load" -- used oil contaminated by a hazardous material such as gasoline, paint thinner, etc. -- must be disposed of as a hazardous waste.  If you find that you have a "hot load", you should call Response Services at the nearest DEP office at the numbers listed below.  Staff will advise you about appropriate procedures and about how to qualify for protection against incurring high costs related to proper disposal.

  • Augusta: Central Maine Regional Office: (207) 287-2651
  • Bangor: Eastern Maine Regional Office: (207) 941-4570
  • Portland: Southern Maine Regional Office: (207) 822-6300
  • Presque Isle: Northern Maine Regional Office: (207)764-0477