Owning an under ground storage tank (UST) comes with a formal set of responsibilities. Government regulations are science-based, so they’re technical and can be complex. They are not optional or mere suggestions. Instead, they’re designed to lessen possible releases of contaminants from under ground storage tanks, by detecting leaks or spills if they do occur and ensuring fastest possible cleanup. Check out this article to know the signs of when your under ground storage tank is damaged.
Consulting with a professional environmental engineering firm can ensure you have all the information you need to confidently purchase, install and monitor your under ground storage tank in compliance with all regulatory requirements.
Protection groundwater quality is the primary goal of under ground storage tank regulation.
Fuels or other hazardous substances that leak from an under ground storage tank or are spilled during filling or extraction can do untold harm. They’re toxic for people, plants and animals, and when they leach into the groundwater they can poison drinking water that millions of people depend on. A leaking storage tank can also cause an explosion or fire.
A little history.
Nearly 30 years ago, the US Environmental Protection Agency created an Office of Underground Storage Tanks, in response to a Congressional mandate to establish a regulatory program governing UST systems. The rules cover storage tanks containing petroleum products or other hazardous chemicals, and they apply to both retail operations, such as gas stations, and those who store chemicals for their own use, such as fleet operators.
There is also a special Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, somewhat humorously abbreviated LUST, to oversee cleanup of properties contaminated by leaking tanks and to pay for that work in certain instances. Part of that legislation created specific financial responsibility requirements, the key component of which requires tank owners and operators to prove they are financially able to remediate releases and also compensate third parties for damages.
EPA is the overall regulating agency, but it works closely with state, territorial and tribal entities to promote prevention and clean-up procedures for USTs. The State of New York administers the program for tanks located here, through the Department of Environmental Conversation Petroleum Bulk Storage Program or the companion program that oversees non-petroleum storage and handling.
New York Cityand some other local jurisdictions also have specific regulations regarding under ground storage tank installation and usage.
A well-built tank is just the beginning.
Today, many under ground storage tanks are made of fiberglass or are coated with fiberglass or some other composite material, to eliminate corrosion that leads to leakage. And all tanks are now required to have secondary containment. That can come from double-wall tank construction or from building a separate housing around the tank.
Aside from leaks, tanks that have been poorly installed or which are not properly monitored and maintained can pose a significant threat. Therefore, there are specific regulations that outline proper installation procedures.
Naturally, you’re expected to do everything you can to protect and monitor your tank and its functional components such as piping, valves and fill ports to ensure everything is working properly and to discover any leaks right away. You are required to report any leak or spill immediately.
Since you can’t visually inspect your under ground storage tank, monitoring is usually handled electronically. You’re required to perform:
- Daily inventory reconciliation, and record any unexplained losses.
- Weekly interstitial space monitoring.
- Monthly cathodic protection.
- Monthly release detection monitoring for liquids or vapors in the surrounding soil.
You must maintain this data on file, to show an official inspector that visits your facility.
There are some exceptions to the regulatory requirements.
Tanks used for certain lower-volume applications such as storing farm fuel or home heating oil, or those that don’t involve designated hazardous substances, are exempt from the under ground storage tank regulations. But don’t assume your tank qualifies – check with authorities for an official ruling.
The bottom line on regulation in New York? It’s your tank, so it’s your responsibility. Here at Walden we are ready to help so contact us for more information on storage tank removal.