Underground Storage Tank Regulations – First Major Revision Since 1988 – Effective October 15, 2015


On July 15, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the first major revision of federally mandated regulations for underground storage tanks (USTs) since 1988.  The new rules will become effective in 90 days (i.e., on October 13, 2015).

The revisions include the following:

  • New secondary containment mechanisms for new and replaced tanks and piping;
  • New periodic operation and maintenance requirements;
  • New operator training requirements;
  • Applicability to airport hydrant systems, field-constructed tanks and emergency generator tanks, which previously had been deferred from regulation;
  • New release prevention and detection technologies; and
  • Updated codes of practice.

While EPA estimates that implementation of the new regulations will cost $715 annually for each facility, the new regulations included input from over 100 public meetings and the Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA), which reported that EPA accepted most of PMAA’s comments.  According to EPA, there are about 571,000 tanks in the country at more than 205,000 sites.

The enforcement of federal UST regulations are in most cases delegated to the state/commonwealth agencies, such as the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Washington D.C. Department of the Environment, which yearly conduct a minimum number of inspections.  Over the years, the agencies have developed fairly robust inspection and enforcement programs. 

The firm’s Environmental Practice Group counsels UST owners and operators in understanding the complexities of the regulations, maintaining compliance and defending enforcement actions. 

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