The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US has been in the frontline to ensure Underground Storage Tanks (UST) meet specified standards. The set standards affect all the tanks in the US territory, the tribal land, and the Indian territory, with the main goal of a guaranteed safety and leak protection.

The UST regulations have been there though have been subjected to frequent revisions. Since 1988, the July 15, 2015 update is so far the major revision published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The revision emphasized on proper operation and maintenance of UST equipment to help in fault prevention and early detection of UST defects.

EPA’s new regulations are there for all retailers to observe if they care to protect their site, their customer and the bank account. There are three major things that a retailer should keep in mind to be on the safe side; these include:

 

1.The EPA Regulations Deadline

October 13, 2018, is the day given by the EPA for all retailers to have observed all regulations touching the UST equipment and systems. There should be proper maintenance on the equipment and systems after the required tests are performed. The authority also requires the system’s owners/operators and site personnel to be thoroughly trained.

Underground Storage Tanks and underground fuel tanks cannot be in line with the EPAs regulation without proper training. The authority requires the retailers to designate at least one person to be trained as a class A and B operator. Each facility should at all times have a class C trained operator on site.

The class A and B operators are trained to service, maintain and repair the Underground Storage Tanks and Underground Fuel Tanks as required. After the set deadline date, each site should have the list and records of personnel trained as a class A and B. The training records should be as set by EPA.

The class C operators are on site technicians who are responsible for addressing emergencies. It is not everyone who can detect a fault or a spillage and thus the reason each site should have a class C operator on site at all times. Before a class A and B operator is contacted to address a fault, a class C operator is in a position to control and manage a spill from underground fuel tanks or Underground Storage Tanks.

EPA is a body that has no personal interests when it gets to UST Regulations. Sites that have operator training programs that meet the EPA’s standards will continue with their programs. It is advisable for all the sites with training programs to check against the standard ones before the set deadline as the authority will not compromise on any of its set rules and regulations.

 

2.The Regulatory Requirements

Whether a site has a new or existing UST system, the EPA authority has a standardized inspection and testing requirements. The owners/operators of a site should be prepared for these inspection and testing requirements before the set deadline.

Walk Through Inspections

Underground fuel tanks or storage tanks are prone to a number of faults. Though the faults might be minor, the damages can be irreparable as UST systems are known for storing petroleum or hazardous substances. A monthly walk-through inspection of spill buckets and release detection equipment need to be conducted.

Spill Bucket Testing

This test should be conducted after every three years in an exemption of UST system which have double-wall spill buckets. The double walled systems interstitial space is tested on a monthly or regular basis hence no need for the three years check.

Overfill Equipment Inspection

It is not possible to tell whether an overfill equipment will be activated when required. This system is not faced by frequent faults and a 3 years test is sufficient. An overfill equipment can cause major losses and damages hence should be functional at all times.

Testing Containment Sump

The containment sumps should be tested whether they are liquid tight to prevent leakages during the piping stage. These interstitial monitors are not faced by regular faults and a once in three years test is sufficient.

Release Detection Equipment Testing

An annual test on Release detection equipment is required to maintain it up to the task. Whether a UST system is new or old, operators are required to plan for this annual check.

Ownership Change

The EPA authority is keeping records for all sites within its territory. A site is required to notify the authority of the change of ownership within 30 working days.

Compatibility Requirement

The EPA authority is on a mission to protect the surroundings from any harmful substances that may leak from these UST systems. Sometimes it is impossible to completely control leakages and EPA requires the UST system to be compatible with substances greater than E10 or B20.

Testing after UST Repairs

After UST system repairs, the EPA authority requires the site owners to perform all the standard tests to be sure of the system’s status.

Reporting release to interstitial space

In case of accidental leakages or spillage, a site is supposed to report to the Ecology authorities.

 

3.The Penalties for Non-Compliance

The EPA authority will not compromise its October 13, 2018 deadline. There will be civil penalties for all sites that are not up to the documented standards. Existing tanks or the new ones will be subjected to the regulated tests and any violation will have the site penalized.

Site owners that have not complied with the new regulations can have the site fined up to $5,000 or more per day for each of its faulty tanks. This is the one and the only negative effect that EPA regulation will have on bank accounts of non-compliant sites.

When the UST system began, there were more sites than there is today. Many sites were closed down due to their substandard states. All existing sites and the upcoming ones should comply with the new regulations if the owners do not want to face a similar fate.

The huge fines are to discourage substandard sites that will endanger the sites operators, the surroundings and the environment in large. UST system spillage or leakage is a danger as underground water sources will be contaminated.

Conclusion

All underground storage tanks and underground fuel tanks systems are supposed to have met the required standards by October 13, 2018. The EPA regulation affects all tanks that have at least 10 percent of their total volume underground and failure to meet the requirements will attract fines and/or closure of the sites.