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Innocent Owner/Operator Program (IOP)

The Texas IOP created by House Bill 2776 of the 75th Legislature, provides a certificate to an innocent owner or operator if their property is contaminated as a result of a release or migration of contaminants from a source or sources not located on the property, and they did not cause or contribute to the source or sources of contamination.

Overview

The Texas IOP, created by House Bill 2776 of the 75th Legislature, provides a certificate to an innocent owner or operator if their property is contaminated as a result of a release or migration of contaminants from a source or sources not located on the property, and they did not cause or contribute to the source or sources of contamination. Like the Texas Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), the IOP can be used as a redevelopment tool or as a tool to add value to a contaminated property by providing an Innocent Owner/Operator Certificate (IOC). However, unlike the VCP release of liability, IOCs are not transferable to future owners/operators. Future innocent owners or operators are eligible to enter the IOP and may receive an IOC only after they become an owner or operator of the site.

Becoming Eligible for Immunity

To become eligible for immunity, the innocent owner or operator must grant reasonable access to the property for future investigation or remediation, agree on necessary restrictions to protect human health and the environment, if appropriate, and demonstrate that:

  • the property has become contaminated because of a release or migration of contaminants from a source or sources not located on or at the property;
  • he or she has not caused or contributed to the source or sources of the contamination;
  • he or she did not acquire the property from the person that caused the release; or if the property was purchased from the owner of the source property after September 1, 1997, the effective date of the IOP law, the applicant must demonstrate he did not know or have reason to know of the contamination at the time the property was acquired.
  • As per the IOP law, it will be necessary for IOP parties to submit:
    • an application;
    • a fee of $1,000 to cover the TCEQ's review cost. (Any portion of the application fee not incurred or obligated in the review of the application shall be refunded.); and
    • a Site Investigation Report (SIR) that describes the contaminated area of concern.

Upon completion of a SIR that demonstrates that the above criteria have been met, then the owner/operator is eligible to receive an IOC from the TCEQ. Parties may terminate their participation in the IOP at any time by written notice to the program.

The state laws that are the foundation of the IOP program are summarized in the Health and Safety Code 361.751-361.754.
The state rules that guide decision making in the IOP program are summarized in the Innocent Owner/Operator Program Rules 30 TAC 333.31-333.43.

Through December 2009, the IOP had received 649 applications representing undeveloped property, office/warehouses, supermarket/retail, commercial development and private residences. Of these sites, 454 have received IOCs.

IOP Forms and Publications

 

The following documents are provided in pdf. (Help with PDF.)

 

 

    • IOP Application Form (TCEQ-10019)
    • Complete this form to request assistance and review from the Innocent Owner/Operator Program staff. Please also complete the CORE Data form to meet IOP application requirements.

 

 

MUST

      complete this form in order to meet IOP application requirements.

 

 

  • IOP Certificate
    Example of the certificate that certifies an applicant has completed all requirements concerning the Innocent Owner/Operator Program.


IOP Database

Search TCEQ's Central Registry for information about specific sites or programs.

This database contains information on all sites that are in the IOP. It is provided as a compressed file. See Compressed Files for assistance in downloading. Fields in the database are identified in the accompanying file, iopfields.txt. This file and the database, iopdb.zip, can be downloaded as a single zipped file. The database is in Microsoft Excel format. This file is updated at the end of each month.

If you have any questions about how to download this database, please contact Diana Christiano at 512-239-5696.

Contact Information

If you have any comments or questions about the IOP, please send an e-mail to vcp@tceq.texas.gov.