NATIONAL REPORT — It may be just one leak, but that one leak can add up to thousands of dollars in environmental fines, equipment repairs, and remediation costs. Combined with regulatory changes happening at the local, state and federal levels, convenience store fuel compliance managers have a lot on their plates.
Compliance managers have been on a rollercoaster ride over the past few years, according to Brent Puzak, vice president of solutions consulting at Titan Cloud Software, a Tennessee-based industry solutions provider for environmental compliance, advanced fuel analytics, wetstock management, and facility maintenance. Titan’s software currently monitors 50 percent of all U.S. consumer gasoline throughput, and covers more than 65,000 facilities.
It's critical that an individual who manages compliance knows the regulations — whether they apply to underground storage tanks, air emissions, or other elements of a fuel retailer's operations, Puzak said.
"Building that regulatory base is the cornerstone of where you start in the industry," he explained during a recent webcast entitled "How to Confidently Manage Your Environmental Compliance," hosted by Convenience Store News and sponsored by Titan Cloud.
Moving forward from this base, compliance managers also need to know the reference standards that are adopted into the regulations. "It is very difficult for someone to do their job if they don't know how they should be responding to issues that arise. It takes time to do those effectively and be able to move through those challenges in a succinct and efficient manner," said Puzak, who formerly served as director of North American Environmental Shared Services for the Circle K convenience store chain.
With emergencies popping up in the business all the time, being able to tap into a support network is key as well. That network, he said, can include:
- A support platform;
- Internal support; and
- Contractors, manufacturers and consultants.
Puzak advised those in environmental compliance roles in the convenience channel to stay organized, learn to multitask, and be a lifelong learner.
"You are going to be doing all of these things in tandem, continually building your knowledge of the regulations, continually learning through the process, finding better ways to get organized, and learning where you have gaps and opportunities and continuing to develop those," he said.
Having a system in place to capture site-level data can help compliance managers stay organized. "Whether you have one site or multiple sites, people are moving away from Excel spreadsheets to much more robust systems to really utilize the data and analytics to better manage their business," he pointed out.
At the end of the day, it's about getting your hands dirty, according to Puzak. "Getting out in the field and understanding what systems you have, how those systems function, and what types of problems those systems have is critical," he noted.
And so is planning for catastrophe. Compliance managers must understand the failure points and the potential impacts on the environment, the community, and the organization.
"You can never plan for catastrophe enough," Puzak said.
Click here for an on-demand replay of the "How to Confidently Manage Your Environmental Compliance" webcast.