USTs - General Information, Regulations, and Guideance on the EPA Regulation

USTs - General Information, Regulations, and Guideance on the EPA Regulation

Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)

USToverv.JPG (19646 bytes)

If you have a leaking underground storage tank (a LUST, RUST, or simply UST), and you haven't heard about the LUST regulations, then you need to read this page! The regulations too effect on December 22, 1998 to remove or upgrade underground storage tanks. Years, later, if you haven't upgraded your tanks, what happens?

The penalties can be steep - the regulations allow for up to $10,000 per day per tank - so the sooner and more proactive you are; the less it will cost - and if you are proactive, with a good subcontract, there may be no fines.

The US EPA has made it known (check newspaper headlines, such as the Atlanta Journal Constitution, August 1, 1998) that they will be cracking down on owners and operators of regulated underground storage tanks who did not comply with the December 22, 1998 deadline.

According to the latest reports, Alabama has the lowest rate of compliance with the tank standard (79% of the gas stations in Alabama still do not comply with the new standards).

New tanks must be designed, constructed, installed, operated and maintained according to the standards. If you need help with this, call us!

Owners and operators of existing substandard USTs have three options for meeting the
deadline. All substandard UST systems were supposed to comply by December 22, 1998, by:

1. Replacing the tank to meet the new UST system performance standards under 40 CFR Section 280.20. Owners and operators may replace the UST with a new tank that meets the spill, overfill, and release detection requirements.

2. Upgrading the tank to meet the requirements of Section 280.21. Owners and operators may upgrade their existing steel tanks with corrosion protection and spill and
overfill protection.

3. Close the tank under the closure requirements of Part 280, Subpart G. Owners and operators may choose to close instead of upgrading or replacing a tank. Owners
and operators may temporarily close in order to meet the deadline if they
take the tank out of service, and comply with the requirements in Section 280.70 including maintaining corrosion protection and release detection. During temporary closure, owners and operators may replace, upgrade, or permanently close the UST. Permanent closure involves filling the tank with an inert material or complete removal of the UST system.

EPA has stated numerous times (and as recently as an August 10, 1998, enforcement strategy memo) that the Agency will not extend the 1998 deadline. Under EPA's regulations, which have been in effect since December 1988 , owners and operators have had 10 years to come into compliance.

If you have questions about meeting this deadline please try the number listed below:

  • (800) 424-9346 -- US EPA Hotline - Regulatory guidance only .

Key facts about USTs :

  • The EPA has found 358,000 leaking tanks nationwide in the past 10 years.
  • There are more leaking tanks than you may realize - for example, while there are about 33,000 underground storage tanks in Georgia, 6,500 of them are leaking.
  • Most USTs are owned by gas stations
  • The 10 year old regulations require that all USTs, leaking or not, tanks be either removed or upgraded to include leak detection and prevention measures. The common measures are sown in figure 2 below.
  • Fines for failure to comply as much as $11,000 per day per violation!
  • On-the-spot fines of $1,000 per violation are possible for failure to monitor correctly.
  • Georgia has 13 full-time UST inspectors on the job, Alabama almost as many!
  • FAQs About Cleaning Up Underground Storage Tank System Releases - questions and answers

Replacement Tank Technologies

In addition to replacing a leaking tank with a double-walled tank, here are some of the typical leak detection methods commonly used (note - you don't need all of them on the same tank!)

Figure 2.

ustdi3.JPG (10871 bytes) 1 - Tank tightness testing

2 - In-tank monitors

3 - Soil gas monitoring

4 - Ground-
water monitoring

5 - Interceptor barrier

6 - Double-wall tank with interstitial monitor

EHSO is ready with experienced staff to assist in finding a cost-effective solution before the deadline - but don't delay! Email us!

FAQs About Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)

OUST's " UST Program Facts " presents a brief program overview and some basic facts that are updated roughly every six months. Answers to the following frequently asked questions are provided as general information (see disclaimer ). These questions and answers are not intended to be a substitute for the written regulations. You should refer to the Code of Federal Regulations, 40 CFR Part 280 for a complete description. In addition, you can find additional answers to technical questions in the UST Technical Compendium .

  1. What Is An Underground Storage Tank (UST) System?
  2. Who Can Answer Questions About UST Systems?
  3. How Can I Tell If A Release Has Occurred?
  4. How Do I Report A Release From An UST System?
  5. What Do I Do About UST Releases?
  6. What Are The Responsibilies Of An UST Owner Or Operator?
  7. What Are My Reporting Responsibilities As An Owner/Operator?
  8. How Can I Choose A Leak Detection Method And Make Sure It Works?
  9. What Records Must I Keep?
  10. What Are The Requirements For Hazardous Substance USTs?
  11. Are Heating Oil Tanks Regulated?
  12. Can Leaking Tanks Or Piping Be Repaired?
  13. How Do You Close Tanks?
  14. Why Are UST Systems Regulated?
  15. How Many UST Systems Have Leaked? How Many Have Been Cleaned Up?
  16. Who Regulates UST Systems?
  17. How Did The Federal UST Program Begin?
  18. How Much Work Remains To Be Done?
  19. Where Can I Get More Information?
  20. Are Aboveground Storage Tanks A Way To Avoid Regulation?

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