New Requirements for Underground Storage Tanks

In July 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published major revisions to the federal underground storage tank (UST) regulations under 40 CFR Part 280 to:

  • Remove past deferrals for USTs that provide fuel for emergency power generation;
  • Add requirements to ensure UST system compatibility before storing certain biofuel blends;
  • Add secondary containment requirements for new and replaced tanks and piping;
  • Add periodic operation and maintenance requirements to UST systems; and
  • Add operator training requirements.

The revised federal rules affect UST owners and operates differently based on the state where the facility is located and whether that state has received state program approval (SPA) under 40 CFR Part 281.  In SPA states, owners and operators must continue to follow their state requirements until the state changes its requirements or until the state's SPA status changes. In non-SPA states, owners and operators must meet the federal requirements according to the schedule described below.

While many of the new federal UST requirements have been in place for several years, additional requirements will become effective on October 13, 2018. The new requirements include:

  • UST facilities must conduct and document walk-through inspections.  Every 30 days, the walk-through inspection must be used to check release detection recordkeeping and the equipment for alarms or unusual operating conditions; check spill prevention equipment for damage and (for double-walled USTs with interstitial monitoring) for leaks in the interstitial area; remove any liquid or debris from the spill prevention equipment; remove obstructions from the fill pipe; and check the fill cap to make sure it is secure.  For USTs that receive infrequent deliveries (i.e., at intervals greater than every 30 days),facilities can opt to inspect the spill prevention equipment, fill pipe, and fill cap prior to each delivery. Delivery records must be maintained to justify these less frequent inspections. Inspection records must be retained for at least one year.
  • UST facilities must also conduct and document an annual walk-through inspection to check containment sumps for damage, leaks into the containment and (if applicable) interstitial areas, and releases to the environment; remove liquid or debris from the containment sumps; and check hand-held release detection equipment (e.g., tank gauge sticks) for operability and serviceability. Inspection records must be retained for at least one year.
  • UST facilities must annually test the electronic and mechanical components of their release detection systems for proper operation in accordance with either the manufacturer's instructions or a code of practice developed by a nationally recognized association or independent testing laboratory. Testing must include control system alarms, system configurations and battery back-ups; probes and sensors; vacuum pumps and pressure gauges; and hand-held electronic sampling equipment associated with groundwater and vapor monitoring. Tests must be documented and records retained for at least three years.
  • UST facilities must ensure their spill prevention equipment and containment sumps used for piping interstitial monitoring are operating properly and will prevent releases to the environment by either: (1) monitoring the integrity of the double-walled equipment at least as frequently as the facility conducts walk-through inspections (i.e., every 30 days); or (2) by vacuum, pressure, or liquid testing the equipment at least once every three years to ensure it is liquid tight.
  • UST facilities must have their overfill prevention equipment inspected for proper operation at least once every three years and within 30 days following repairs to this equipment. At a minimum, the inspection must ensure that the equipment is set to activate at the correct level (based on the type of overfill device) and that it will activate when the regulated substances reach that level. The inspection must be documented, and this record must be maintained for at least three years.
  • All UST systems must have at least one designated Class A operator and one Class B operator; and must designate all individuals who meet the definition of a Class C operator as a Class C operator.

Information on the new federal requirements is available at

Melissa Krah, Mabbett & Associates Inc.

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