Because requirements for underground and aboveground storage tanks differ, this expanded section of the tour will treat each category separately. Please note that, although most state regulations are derived from the federal regulations described here, the requirements of some states are more stringent than those of the federal government.
Underground Storage Tanks
The EPA adopted regulations concerning underground storage tanks (USTs) in 40 CFR Part 280. These regulations apply not only to USTs containing petroleum products and hazardous substances, but also to underground piping connected to them.
The purpose of the state and federal UST program is to prevent contamination of the environment through leaks and spills of petroleum products and hazardous substances. State and federal UST regulations include the following:
- Performance standards for new and existing USTs
- Required notifications
- Spill and overfill control
- Corrosion protection
- Recordkeeping and reporting
- Release detection
- Release response
- Release reporting and investigation
Federal UST regulations (40 CFR 280) were revised in December 1988 and essentially allowed tank owners and operators 10 years to meet new technical standards for leak detection, corrosion protection and spill and overfill protection. Federal UST regulations also apply to USTs used to store hazardous substances.
Under 40 CFR 280.11, tanks for storing heating oil for on-premise consumption are specifically excluded from the definition of an underground storage tank and so are not subject to the federal UST regulations. However, some states do not provide for a categorical exemption for heating oil for tanks used for this purpose. For example, in Massachusetts, although USTs containing heating oil for consumptive use on site are exempt from some requirements (e.g., leak detection equipment, cathodic protection, etc.), they must still meet some state requirements for tank upgrades, etc. You should review your state's regulations to determine what requirements might apply to your tanks.
Corrosion protection systems must be operated and maintained to provide continuous protection for the life of the system. Corrosion protection is afforded by using one of the following materials of construction:
- Fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP)
- Cathodically protected steel, as specified in 40 CFR 280.20 (a) (2)
- A steel-fiberglass-reinforced-plastic composite
The tank can be constructed of metal without additional corrosion protection measures if a corrosion expert has determined the installation site to be non-corrosive, or if another corrosion protection method approved by the EPA was used. UST piping must similarly be protected against corrosion in accordance with 40 CFR 280.20 (b).
UST systems protected with cathodic protection systems must be inspected for proper operation by a qualified inspector within six months of installation and at least every three years thereafter (or at a similar frequency established by the implementing agency). They also must maintain proper operating records to demonstrate compliance with applicable performance standards. USTs with impressed current cathodic protection must be inspected every 60 days to ensure proper operation. Inspection criteria must conform to applicable, nationally recognized codes of practice.
Spill and overflow prevention
When product is transferred to or from the UST, the regulations require spill and overfill prevention equipment, unless the volume is 25 gallons or less at one time. Spill-prevention equipment must be adequate to prevent the release of product to the environment when the transfer hose is released from the fill pipe (e.g., a spill collection container). Overfill prevention equipment is required to do one of the following:
- Shut off flow into the tank when the tank is no more than 95 percent full
- Alert the transfer operator when the tank is no more than 90 percent full by restricting flow into the tank or triggering a high level alarm
- Restrict flow into the tank 30 minutes prior to overfilling and alert the operator with a high level alarm one minute before overfilling
- Automatically shut off flow into the tank so that none of the fittings located on top of the tank are exposed to product due to overfilling
Alternative means of overfill and spill containment approved by the EPA are also acceptable. All tanks must be properly installed in accordance with standard accepted codes and practices (such as those of the American Petroleum Institute), and also the manufacturer's instructions. Installations must be certified, tested and inspected to confirm compliance with the standard code and the manufacturer's requirements.
Owners and operators of new and existing UST systems must provide a method or combination of methods to detect product release. This includes potential release from any part of the tank, piping and associated equipment that routinely contains product; is installed, calibrated, operated, and maintained in accordance with manufacturer's instructions; and meets applicable performance standards including those specified in 40 CFR 280.43 or 280.44.
The following notification requirements apply to USTs:
- Owners of USTs brought into use after May 8, 1986, are required to submit a notice of the tank system's existence to a designated state or local agency. This notice must be given on the appropriate form provided by local or state authorities.
- Owners and operators of new UST systems must obtain the installer's certification on the above notification form. This certification shows that the installation was completed in accordance with all applicable code and manufacturer's requirements.
- Under 40 CFR 280.30, owners and operators of UST systems are required to ensure that product releases due to spilling and overfilling will not occur. The capacity of the tank must be greater than the volume of product to be transferred, and the transfer operation must be monitored constantly.
- Spills and overfills must be reported, investigated and cleaned up by the owner and operator in accordance with the applicable requirements specified in 40 CFR 280.53.
The following records must be maintained and immediately available for inspection either at the UST site or at a readily accessible alternative site for the time periods indicated:
- A corrosion expert's analysis of site corrosion potential (if corrosion protection equipment is not required), for the life of the tank and/or piping
- Results from the last two times the system was tested and, in the case of impressed current cathodic protection systems, results of the last three inspections
- Documentation of UST system repairs, for the life of the system (40 CFR 280.33(f))
- Documentation of compliance with release detection requirements (see above for detail and time periods)
- Results of site investigations conducted when USTs are permanently closed, retained for three years (40 CFR 280.74)
- The following release-detection records, maintained for the time periods indicated (40 CFR 280.45):
- Results of any sampling, testing or monitoring, retained on site for one year (except for the results of tank tightness testing, which must be retained until the next test is conducted)
- Written documentation of all calibration, maintenance and repair of the release-detection system, retained on site for a minimum of one year
- Schedules of required calibration and maintenance provided by the manufacturer of the release-detection system, retained for five years from the date of installation
- The manufacturer or installer's written claims of system performance, as well as any written information supporting these claims, kept for five years
Aboveground Storage Tanks
Jurisdiction for Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs) generally falls on local and state authorities. In Massachusetts, for example, requirements associated with the tank's permitting, design, location, fire protection and secondary containment depend on the design capacity of the tank and material stored in it. Among tanks that store flammable liquids, those with greater than 10,000 gallon capacity are addressed in 527 CMR 9.03; those of 10,000 gallons or less are addressed in 527 CMR 9.04. Also, tanks with capacities greater than 10,000 gallons must also comply with 502 CMR 5.02 Permit Requirements and Annual Inspection of Aboveground Storage Tanks or Containers.
While the following recommendation may be considered best practices, some states have adopted some of these recommendations as regulatory requirements. These include practices for inspections, housekeeping, and training; tank farm operations; storage and labeling; and accidents/releases.
Inspections, Housekeeping and Training
- Facilities should implement appropriate measures to prevent any spill, leak or discharge of oil or other chemicals stored in ASTs into the environment. This can be done by inspecting the ASTs themselves, connected piping and associated pumping equipment on a periodic basis.
- All petroleum and other chemical ASTs must have appropriate secondary containment and/or diversionary structures or equipment such as dikes, berms, curbing or other barriers. Areas enclosed by secondary containment should be properly maintained, and all accumulated water within secondary containment areas should be disposed of properly.
- Use of absorbent materials and spot cleaning for small spills is encouraged. All material used to clean up the spill or leak should be collected and disposed of.
- Aboveground valves and pipelines must be inspected on a regular basis to assess their general condition.
- Facilities should maintain proper record-keeping systems for their inspections; inventories of substances and quantities, stored and used; and leak or spill reports.
- Facilities should train employees at least once a year in storage procedures, spill prevention and clean-up procedures.
Tank Farm Operations
Facilities with large quantities of petroleum or other chemical products stored in multiple ASTs (i.e., tank farms) must use extreme care in product handling operations, to minimize impact to the environment. Due to the potential for mishap with large product transfer operations, owners/operators must implement the following precautions:
- The ground surface beneath the location of all filters and product transfer points must be covered with concrete and have appropriate secondary containment (dikes, berms, curbing or other barrier). Wastewater collected in secondary treatment may require treatment prior to discharge.
- In addition to accepted industry and regulatory standards, tank farm operators should establish an inventory control procedure capable of providing for the detection of product discharge. This procedure should be capable of being enacted within the shortest feasible time after the discharge, and it should comply with recognized engineering procedures and industry measurement standards.
- Tank farm operators must also establish a plan of action for leakage from the AST. State environmental agencies may require installation of groundwater monitor wells upon detection of a discharge.
Storage and Labeling
Storage tanks and containers should be maintained in good condition (i.e., with no visible spills, leaks, rusting and denting) and also properly and legibly labeled.
Your school should maintain adequate and easily accessible supplies of spill-response equipment and materials near areas where spills are likely to occur, and they should take all necessary steps to ensure that a spill does not spread to the point that it threatens property damage, personal injury or environmental harm. Employees should be trained in the procedures for spill response and prevention. Any release of regulated materials (oils, paints, solvents, fuels, cleaning additives, etc.) into the environment should be reported immediately to the EH&S staff and/or the emergency response team.
For the complete federal regulations for underground storage tanks, click here:
40 CFR 280