An Underground Storage Tank (UST) is defined as any underground piping attached to a tank with a minimum of 90 percent of its combined volume underground. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a set of strict guidelines for USTs, to prevent potentially disastrous releases.

All USTs are required to meet proper installation guidelines, designed to protect the system from spills, overflows and corrosion. Additionally, owners and operators are required to follow correct filling practices. New UST systems, suspected releases and UST system closures must be reported, allowing the EPA to closely monitor them. Detailed records of operation and maintenance must be kept, so officials can review them during a general inspection or in the event of a release.

Individual regulations vary by state, as the EPA delegated UST regulatory authority to approved state programs in December 1988. In fact, some states have much more stringent regulation than others. As of April 2007, 36 states ─ and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) ─ have approved programs in place.

UST Regulations and Requirements

According to the EPA, owners and operators of all federally regulated USTs must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Register with the correct regulatory authority.
  • Comply with designated leak detection requirements.
  • Demonstrate financial responsibility to provide appropriate resources to clean up a site in the event of an unexpected release, including cleaning up environmental damage and compensating victims for personal and/or property damage.
  • Complete a site check and employ corrective action in the event of leaks, spills and overflows.
  • Conform with regulatory rules during the installation of new tanks and the closure of existing ones.
  • Maintain adequate federal reporting and recordkeeping requirements ─ specific regulations may vary by state and local regulatory authority.
  • Perform periodic checks on corrosion protection and leak detection systems.

For specific regulations and requirements, contact the state or local agency that regulates your UST program.

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