Background on USTs
Underground storage tank systems include any tank that has at least 10% of its combined volume underground. Federal UST regulations apply only to UST systems that are storing petroleum or other hazardous substances while state regulations vary.
When the UST program began, there were approximately 2.1 million regulated UST systems in the United States according to the EPA. Today, there are far fewer since many substandard UST systems have been closed.
The Importance of Regular Inspections
Leaking underground storage tanks can be one of the biggest threats to groundwater quality in the US. Factors at play that lead to leaking tanks include corrosion, improper installation, spills during delivery, and piping failures.
The EPA estimates that cleaning up a petroleum spill underground can cost around $32 billion! Regular inspections of USTs are critical in properly maintaining their safety and constantly monitoring for warning signs of future leaks. Inspectors need to be proactive not reactive when it comes to underground storage tank quality.
Resources to Improve your UST Inspections
To better inspect and maintain your USTs, refer to the resources below. If you are involved in state regulated UST inspections, don’t focus on your state regulations alone – check out how other states have helped inspectors and publications they’ve issued.
EPA UST Pamphlet
This comprehensive brochure published by the EPA has been updated this year and outlines a step by step process of better managing your underground storage tank systems. The first section provides an equipment checklist that you can print out and begin going through right away. Included in the checklist are notes on definitions, regulation updates, and dates to be aware of.
The best part about this online pamphlet is that the new or altered regulations and responsibilities are highlighted with an orange ‘UPDATED’ callout box. There are a number of checklists provided in the pamphlet including automatic tank gauging systems, statistical inventory reconciliation, and continuous in-tank leak detection.
UST Checklists Spreadsheet
Resource: UST Checklists Spreadsheet.xls
We took all of the checklists in the EPA’s brochure and converted them into an Excel spreadsheet for collection on laptops and mobile devices. It’s important to collect this data electronically so you can start gathering data for quality analysis. While an automated SaaS solution is the easiest method of data collection, Excel spreadsheets are still more actionable than pen and paper inspections.
Access the UST Checklists Spreadsheet here.
Additional EPA Resources
All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have a comprehensive set of UST leak prevention and release detection regulations and a program to implement those regulations. Additionally, all states have cleanup programs.
- State Underground Storage Tank Programs
The states with approved underground storage tank programs are: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia
– Refer to this list of UST Operator Training Regulations by State provided by UST Training
- Resources for Owners and Operators
– Financial responsibilities
– Operation and maintenance
– Reporting and recordkeeping
- Resources for Inspectors
– UST-LUST virtual trainings
- Resources for State and Territorial Implementing Agencies
– Delivery prohibition
– State program approval
– Additional compliance documents
- UST Contacts
Resource: LUST/Corrective Action Webinar Archive
The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission holds webinars specifically informing attendees of methods and best practices regard leaking underground storage tanks. Take a look at some of the archived webinars they’ve posted for more information.
Guide to Petroleum Storage Inspections
While this guide is specific to Florida, it outlines a comprehensive petroleum inspection plan and can be valuable for all states to adapt and distribute.
Utilize these resources to improve process and operations for your underground storage tank inspections. We recommend implementing these checklists and best practices into an online solution to maximize efficiencies and timely reporting.