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Underground Storage Tank Owners: EPA UST Regulations

Sunday, May 8, 2016

U.S. EPA Has Issued Underground Storage Tank Regulations

By Doug Rucker, P.G.PDR-Headshot

As all underground storage tank (UST) owners and operators should know, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued new UST regulations in 2015. Although some incremental changes have been made over the years, including equipment testing and operator training requirements, this is the first major revision to the federal UST regulations contained in 40 CFR Part 280 since 1988. The revised regulations were published in the Federal Register in July 2015 and became effective on October 13, 2015. Implementation deadlines for the new regulations for a particular UST site will depend upon the state in which that site is located. States with USEPA-approved UST programs, such as Indiana, will have three years from the effective date to revise their programs in accordance with the new federal regulations and begin implementation. On the other hand, sites in states without USEPA-approved UST programs, such as Kentucky and Ohio, must begin implementing the new regulations immediately on the effective date and meet the deadlines and time frames specified in the new regulations. A full listing of the states with approved UST programs can be found on the USEPA’s website at the following link:


Some of the revised regulations and the specific dates upon which they became or will become effective in states without USEPA-approved UST programs are listed below:

Effective October 13, 2015:

  • Notification of the intention to store a regulated substance containing 10% or more ethanol or 20% or more biodiesel in a previously existing UST system must be provided to the state UST regulatory agency 30 days prior to introducing the substance into the system. In addition, it must be demonstrated that all of the components of the existing system that will come into contact with the new substance will not be degraded or compromised by the new substance.
  • Any component related to spill or overfill prevention or secondary containment that undergoes repair, such as a sump, spill bucket, leak detector, under-dispenser containment (UDC), product piping, or tank, must be tested within 30 days after the repair to demonstrate that the component will function as intended.
  • Ball floats (also called flow restrictors) will no longer be allowed for overfill prevention in new UST systems, and such devices in previously existing systems cannot be repaired but must be replaced by a different type of overfill prevention device at the time of any upgrade or repair.
  • Notification of previously deferred UST systems, such as airport hydrant systems and field-constructed tanks, must be made to the appropriate state UST regulatory agency within 30 days of the effective date. Demonstration of financial responsibility for the previously deferred systems must also be made at this time.


Effective April 11, 2016:

  • In a previously existing UST system that utilizes single-wall product piping, when greater than 50% of the product piping in a run is repaired or replaced, the entire piping run must be replaced with double-wall piping and interstitial monitoring must be implemented for leak detection.
  • Under-dispenser containment must be installed for all dispensers associated with new UST systems. For previously existing UST systems, if a dispenser is replaced in association with the shear valve or any components below the shear valve, under-dispenser containment must be installed if it is not already present.


Effective October 13, 2018:

  • States that have not previously implemented the UST operator training requirements of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 must do so by this date.
  • For sites that use soil vapor or groundwater monitoring as leak detection methods, a site assessment must be completed to ensure that the methods are suitable for the particular UST system. Records of the assessment must be maintained. Vapor or groundwater monitoring must be performed once every 30 days.
  • Release detection must be installed for USTs in place prior to October 13, 2015, that store fuel solely for emergency backup generators.
  • For previously deferred systems (primarily airport hydrant systems and field-constructed tanks) in operation prior to October 13, 2015, release detection must be installed and operator training implemented.
  • Owners and operators must perform the first test or inspection of spill prevention equipment, overfill prevention components, containment sumps used for piping, interstitial monitoring, release detection equipment, and walkthrough inspections.


Complete information on the updated regulations may be found at the USEPA website link below:


The Ohio state agency responsible for USTs is the Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations (BUSTR), which is a division of the State Fire Marshal’s office. BUSTR has indicated that it is in the process of reviewing the new federal regulations and updating their own guidelines as appropriate with a goal of having BUSTR’s guidelines finalized and in place by 2017. The link for the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s office is below:


In Kentucky, the agency responsible for USTs is the Underground Storage Tank Branch (USTB) of the Division of Waste Management in the Department for Environmental protection. The new USEPA guidelines cannot fully be implemented until approved by the state legislature, which has not happened as of this writing. However, information published by the USTB indicates that its inspectors will make note of any non-compliance issues related to the revised regulations during site inspections and will issue notices of violation (NOVs). The link to the USTB’s website is below:


As Indiana has a UST program approved by the USEPA, all effective dates for the revised USEPA regulations are three years later than those indicated above. However, it is considered likely that the agency responsible for UST programs in Indiana, the Office of Land Quality within the Department for Environmental Management (IDEM), will begin reviewing and revising its guidelines in the near future in order to be fully compliant with USEPA regulations by October 13, 2018. The link to the Office of Land Quality underground storage tank website is below:

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