EPA Issues Stronger UST Requirements

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued stronger federal underground storage tank (UST) requirements. These new requirements are intended to improve prevention and detection of petroleum releases from USTs, a top source of groundwater contamination.

According to the EPA, its new requirements will also ensure all USTs in the United States meet the same release protection standards.

“These changes will better protect people’s health and benefit the environment in communities across the country by improving prevention and detection of underground storage tank releases,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “Extensive and meaningful collaboration with our underground storage tank partners and stakeholders was vital to the development of the new regulations. The revised requirements will also help ensure consistency in implementing the tanks program among states and on tribal lands.”

The revised requirements include:

  • Adding secondary containment requirements for new and replaced tanks and piping;
  • Adding operator training requirements;
  • Adding periodic operation and maintenance requirements for UST systems;
  • Removing past deferrals for emergency generator tanks, airport hydrant systems and field-constructed tanks;
  • Adding new release prevention and detection technologies;
  • Updating codes of practice; and
  • Updating state program approval requirements to incorporate these new changes.

Since states primarily implement UST programs, some already have at least one of these revised requirements in place. For those that do not have such requirements, these changes will set standards that are more protective, noted the EPA.

Regarding USTs on tribal lands, secondary containment and operator training requirements of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 will apply.

To develop its final UST regulations, the EPA said it reached out to many affected and interested stakeholders and carefully considered the environmental benefits of UST requirements balanced against the potential future costs of compliance for UST owners and operators.

"For example, EPA is not requiring owners and operators to replace existing equipment, but rather is focusing on better operation and maintenance of that equipment," the agency stated.

The docket for the UST regulation is EPA-HQ-UST-2011-0301 and can be accessed here when the final regulation is published.

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