How the EPA Is Cracking Down On UST Violations

Published: February 24, 2016

Nine stations face fines after repeated non-compliance on underground storage tanks.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached settlements with nine gas stations in Alaska, Oregon and Washington after the stations in question were found to be out of compliance with federal laws designed to protect underground sources of drinking water from fuel stored in underground storage tanks (UST).

According to a report from Water Online, the nine stations received increased penalties due to repeated violations, and one station is currently blocked from receiving fuel shipments for continued non-compliance. The financial penalties ranged from $3,400 to more than $13,000.

Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act’s underground storage tank regulations, facilities that store petroleum or other certain hazardous liquids underground are required to install and maintain line leak detector systems on underground piping and conduct line tests.

All but one of the nine stations agreed to correct the problems, improve their management of underground fuel tanks, and work to become in compliance with the federal rules, Water Online reported.

In June 2015, EPA strengthened its federal UST requirements. The move was meant to improve EPA’s original 1988 UST regulation by closing regulatory gaps, adding new technologies, and focusing on properly operating and maintaining existing UST systems in order to better prevent and detect petroleum releases from USTs, which are one of the leading sources of groundwater contamination.

The revised requirements included:

  • adding secondary containment requirements for new and replaced tanks and piping;
  • adding operator training requirements;
  • adding periodic operation and maintenance requirements for UST systems;
  • removing past deferrals for emergency generator tanks, airport hydrant systems, and field-constructed tanks;
  • adding new release prevention and detection technologies;
  • updating codes of practice; and
  • updating state program approval requirements to incorporate these new changes.

  • EPA is not requiring owners and operators to replace existing equipment, but rather is focusing on better operation and maintenance of that equipment.


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