EPA to Revise Underground Storage Tank Regulations
By Chuck Walker
The EPA is proposing revisions to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to bring the operation of Underground Storage Tanks (UST) into accordance with provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the Solid Waste Disposal Act. The EPA regulates some 600,000 Underground Storage Tanks (UST) in this country. The release of hazardous liquids from underground tanks is less common these days, but releases from piping, spills and overfills from delivery operations are more common.
Spills at the dispenser are one of the most common sources of releases. Recent studies across 27 states have found approximately 7,000 releases or spills occur each year, due to lack of proper maintenance and improper operation.
Previously some existing installations were granted variances from compliance, but the new regulations will bring all facilities up to the new standards:
1. Install secondary containment and interstitial monitoring for all (including petroleum) new and replaced tanks and piping (except safe suction piping and piping associated with field-constructed tanks and airport hydrant systems).
2. Under-dispenser containment for all new dispenser systems. Walkthrough inspections — owners and operators conduct.
3. Walkthrough inspections — owners and operators conduct monthly walk through inspections, which look at spill prevention equipment, sumps and dispenser cabinets, monitoring/observation wells, cathodic protection equipment and release detection equipment.
4. Spill prevention equipment — owners and operators test annually for liquid tightness or use a double-walled spill bucket with continuous interstitial monitoring.
5. Overfill prevention equipment — owners and operators test every three years to ensure equipment is set to activate at the appropriate level in the tank and will activate when regulated substances reach that height.
6. Secondary containment areas — owners and operators test every three years to ensure the interstitial area has integrity or use specific continuous monitoring methods.
7. Release detection equipment (including LLDs) — owners and operators test annually to ensure equipment is operating properly.
8. Originally, UST systems storing fuel for use by emergency power generators were deferred from providing release detection [§ 280.10(d)]. The new EPA requirements removes deferrals and requires owners and operators to perform release detection. (The 1988 UST regulations deferred emergency generator tanks because at that time technology was not available to monitor remote sites. The technology is now available to monitor and detect releases. These systems have releases similar to other regulated UST systems and need to have release detection monitoring.)
9. Field-constructed tanks (FCT), airport hydrant systems (AHS) and wastewater treatment tank systems deferred from subparts B, C, D, E, G and H [280.10(c)(1), (4), and (5)] : EPA removes deferral and regulates FCT, AHS, and wastewater treatment tank systems. Owners and operators may use alternative release detection options for FCT and AHS systems. EPA continues to defer aboveground tanks associated with FCT and AHS.
10. EPA defines airport hydrant fuel distribution system. Implementation: three years for subparts B (except notification), C and D (except periodic bulk piping pressure testing which has a phase in over seven years) and immediate for sub parts E, G, H and notification [Sections IV.C.2, 3, and 4].
11. EPA eliminates flow restrictors in vent lines as an option for owners and operators to meet the overfill prevention equipment requirement for newly installed UST systems and when flow restrictors in vent lines are replaced. This technology has several inherent weaknesses and can result in tanks being over pressurized. This proposed change no longer allows flow restrictors in vent lines for new and replaced systems. Owners and operators must use one of the other overfill prevention methods listed in 40 CFR part 280.
12. Permanently close tanks using internal lining as the sole method of corrosion protection, if the internal lining fails the periodic inspection and cannot be repaired according to a code of practice. Implementation: immediately.
13. Various reporting and notification requirements.
The EPA will also begin enforcing the existing Energy Policy Act of 2005, SEC 1527 Delivery Prohibition which states:
“... all installations deemed in violation of the proposed UST regulations, will be prohibited from delivery to, deposit into, or accept a regulated substance into an underground storage tank at a facility which has been identified by the Administration or a State implementing agency to be ineligible for such delivery, deposit, or acceptance.”
The EPA is proposing these new regulations under the authority of the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1970, as amended by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1970.
These revised regulations will affect the following industries: Retail Motor Fuel; Commercial (wholesale trade, retail trade, accommodation, and food services); Institutional (hospitals only); Manufacturing; Transportation (air, water, truck, transit, pipeline, and airport operations); Communications and Utilities (wired telecommunications carriers, electric power generation, transmission, 5171, 2211. and distribution), and Agriculture(crop and animal production).
The changes will improve environmental protection and have been designed to minimize required retrofit costs to owners, with an emphasis on properly operating and maintaining equipment. The 1988 UST regulation provided spill, overfill and release detection equipment. Required spill prevention equipment was to capture drips and spills when the delivery hose was disconnected, but did not require periodic testing of that equipment.
New regulations will require that UST equipment is operated and maintained properly. The changes will also reflect advances in technology to detect releases from deferred UST systems.
The new proposed regulations will not change the Owner/Operator's responsibilities and liabilities as set forth in the original 1988 UST, but shall add three new classes of Operators: A, B and C, which will require training and certification to ensure that the system is properly maintained and operated. The training program will be developed by each state and will be performed by an independent testing service. Owner/Operator Testing shall be phased in over a 3 year period with the oldest UST systems required to be in compliance first.
Those interested in owner/operator training requirements are referred to the EPA guidelines at set forth on the EPA notice of proposed rule making published in the Federal Register. 40 CFR parts 280 and 281.
For more information, read “EPA Proposal Revises Underground Storage Tank Regulations” online at www.epa.gov/oust/fedlaws/proposedregs.html.
Chuck Walker has worked in Southern California as a project manager and project engineer for more than 20 years. He has a Certificate In Plumbing Engineering and a Certificate in Fire Protection In Building Construction, both from UCLA Extension University. He is presently studying business communication at Cal State University in Southern California.