Reporting Requirements for Contaminated Sites and Releases under MTCA

What is the purpose of this requirement?
The Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) is a citizen-mandated hazardous waste cleanup law. Under the MTCA regulations, owners and operators must report to Ecology any release or threatened release of a hazardous substance on their site. A verbal or written report must be made within ninety days of discovery unless the release is from a regulated underground storage tank (typically gas stations), which must be reported within 24 hours. These notification requirements apply to both current and historical releases. Please note that releases to surface water or from permitted hazardous waste storage, treatment, or disposal facilities have more stringent reporting requirements. Refer to the "Reporting Requirement for a Spill or Release of a Hazardous Chemical" for reporting information on these types of releases.

Ecology conducts an initial investigation of all reported sites and, if appropriate, the site will be placed on Ecology's "confirmed and suspected sites list" with a notation that further remedial action is needed.

The MTCA regulations also allow for site owners or other responsible persons to clean up a site themselves, without Ecology's oversight or approval. These "independent" cleanups must be reported to Ecology. Owners of sites undergoing independent remedial actions may receive feedback from Ecology by requesting an informal opinion through Ecology's Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP). Under this voluntary program, the property owner submits a cleanup report with a fee to cover Ecology's review costs. Based on this review, Ecology either issues a "No Further Action" letter or identifies what additional work is needed. Refer to the "Voluntary Cleanup Program" for further information on Ecology's review procedures.

Persons wanting a more formal approval of the cleanup from Ecology can request an agreed order or consent decree. Ecology can also initiate negotiations on an agreed order or consent decree. Where insufficient progress on cleanup has been made, Ecology may issue an enforcement order. Under these options, Ecology oversees in detail activities such as site investigations, public involvement, cleanup, and monitoring.
Who issues this requirement?
Department of Ecology
What activities require this requirement?
In general, all activities that release hazardous substances to the environment must comply with the MTCA reporting requirement. However, the MTCA Cleanup Regulation (Chapter 173-340 WAC) includes several exemptions from the notification requirement (See WAC 173-340-300(2). If a person decides to investigate or clean up a site, they must comply with the site testing and cleanup actions requirements in the MTCA Cleanup Regulation. No permit is required under MTCA to investigate or cleanup a site. However, people may need to obtain other state or local permits for these activities.
How much will this requirement cost?
There are no fees required when reporting a release of hazardous substances.

People may seek additional Ecology review after reporting a hazardous substance release. Additional reviews are often conducted under Ecology's Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP). Under this program, VCP applicants agree to pay Ecology's review costs. See the voluntary cleanup program in this handbook for additional information.
Where can I get the application for this requirement?
The application is online and can be accessed at
Do I need to include anything with my application?
The process for applying under the Voluntary Cleanup Program is described on Ecology's web site and the Voluntary Cleanup Program information in this handbook.
Is the decision on my requirement dependent on anything besides the information in my application?
Not applicable.
How long will it take to review my application?
Must report historical releases within 90 days but there is no deadline for cleanup unless Ecology establishes one. Releases from regulated underground storage tanks must be reported within 24 hours and cleanup must meet other deadlines specified in WAC 173-340-450. Ecology must conduct an initial investigation within 90 days of the release being reported.
Where do I submit my application?
For cleanups being conducted under an agreed order, consent decree, or enforcement order, the process will be specified in that legal document. For cleanups being conducted under Ecology's Voluntary Cleanup Program, see the "Voluntary Cleanup" link below.
How long is my requirement valid?
Not applicable.
What is the appeal process for the requirement?
Not applicable. The MTCA statute and regulations do not provide an appeal process for reporting releases of hazardous substances.

Based on the information reported to Ecology, the Toxics Cleanup Program (TCP) may determine that may determine that one or more people are responsible for cleaning up the hazardous substance. TCP notifies people of these determinations by sending them a status letter that describes the bases for the Ecology's determination. Persons receiving status letters may submit comments within 30 days from the date the status letter is received.
Notes / Comments:
There are no application forms for reporting releases of hazardous substances. Refer to the "Voluntary Cleanup Program" for information on the application process for reviews conducted under that program.

Releases should be reported by phone or written report to the appropriate Ecology regional office. Guidance for reporting releases can be found in the Toxics Cleanup Program's Policy 300.

Costs for oversight of cleanups under an order or decree are governed by the specific legal agreement (generally billed monthly).
Legal Authority:
Where can I get permitting assistance?
Web page URL:
Department of Ecology
Toxics Cleanup Program
300 Desmond Drive
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Telephone: (360) 407-7170
Fax: (360) 407-7154
Triggering Questions:
  • Are you responsible for the cleanup of a hazardous waste site that has had a release from an underground storage tank, historical release, or where there is the potential for a release to occur?
* Permit information last updated 10/19/2022