Underground Storage Tanks (UST) are an integral part of industrial operations. Yet they can become very dangerous if not used and maintained properly. To help you navigate the world of underground storage tanks, we have compiled a list of things you should know about them!

What is a UST?

An underground tank is a tank with at least 10 percent of its volume underground. A UST system includes the tank, piping, ancillary equipment, and containment system. Most of the time, USTs will contain toxic or hazardous substances and are common in the oil and gas industry, but a simple home septic tank is also a UST.

UST Regulations

Underground storage tanks are highly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because a spill or leak could become a serious environmental hazard. UST leaks and spills can pollute the ground and groundwater, release toxic chemicals and fumes into the air, and even cause explosions and fires. To keep these dangerous scenarios down, the EPA regulates USTs to prevent and catch leaks as soon as they happen.

UST regulations include technology and equipment that monitor and report leaks, as well as systems that prevent leaks. Other regulations tell UST owners what to do in the event of a leak, or worse, an emergency situation caused by a UST leak.

What Needs to Be Regulated?

Federal underground storage tank regulations only apply to USTs that contain hazardous materials. Residential and farm USTs that hold less than 1,100 gallons for noncommercial use, USTs that store heating oil, USTs in basements or tunnels, septic tanks, systems used to collect storm or wastewater, USTs that hold less than 110 gallons, and emergency spill and overfill USTs are not regulated.


All regulated underground storage tanks are required to have an approved leak detection method installed. When choosing a leak detection method, you should take things into consideration like your soil type, the depth of the groundwater, and seasonal rainfall and temperatures, as well as cost, how much maintenance it requires, and if there is a professional who can install it.

If a leak is detected, it is vital to report the leak immediately and take action to prevent the leak from spreading or worsening. It’s best to have a thorough plan of action in place should a leak occur as well as emergency spill response trained operators on hand. In some applications, all the above is actually federally required. Be sure that you are familiar with the regulations and laws surrounding your specific underground tank application.

Get Help from American Petroleum

At American Petroleum, we offer a wide array of underground storage tank services from inspection and maintenance to repair and replacement. We’d be happy to help you learn more about underground storage tanks and meet any needs you may have. Our services ensure that you are in compliance with any legal aspects while protecting your investment, your employees, and the environment in the process