What is a Storage Tank Compliance Program?
Companies that utilize underground storage tanks (USTs) are subject to regulations by local, state, and especially federal regulations and controls. Requirements for prevention and detection of leakage from such containment tanks are intended to prevent ground and water contamination by hazardous chemicals and petroleum-based products.
There are in excess of a half million USTs in the United States, creating the potential for significant contamination if owners of these tanks were not held to specific regulations that protect the environment and the public. Regulations are in place that require UST operators and owners to install tanks properly and provide adequate safeguards to prevent overfilling, corrosion, and spills. There are additional requirements for reporting incidents of UST system shutdowns, releases, suspected releases, and the addition of new USTs. Records of all maintenance and operation must also be maintained.
Compliance with EPA regulations includes a number of requirements including:
- Spill protection to avoid contamination when fill hoses are removed
- Overfill protection – including automatic shutoff as tanks approach capacity, overfill alarms, or flow restrictors
- Corrosion protection to eliminate leaks caused by tank corrosion
- Air quality testing in the immediate vicinity of USTs
- Worker training
- Routine inspections
Failure to comply with regulations can result in significant penalties or fines, facility shutdown (red-tagging), and business disruption.
Benefits of a Comprehensive Storage Tank Compliance Program
Once an out-of-compliance incident is detected at a UST facility, it is not uncommon for inspectors to return more frequently to check for recurrence. A consistent program of compliance measures ensures continued operation and passed inspections. Additional benefits can be realized through establishing such a program:
- Violations can generate negative public opinions of your business. Continued problems will result in lost business or even an order to cease operations until resolutions are in place and approved.
- Minimize enforcement actions and notices to comply.
- Eliminate or at least minimize penalties.
- Control considerable expense to the business.
- Control environmental impact caused by contamination.
Creating a Storage Tank Compliance Program
How do you get started with a compliance program? There are several key factors to establishing a comprehensive and proactive program:
- Ensure all operators at UST facilities are certified in all aspects of operation including emergency procedures and compliance training.
- Perform regular testing and evaluation of any monitoring system, and record findings.
- Educate operators in proper handling of hazardous waste when even minor spills are detected. Safety training is a critical component for new employees.
- Conduct regular inspections of all UST installations.
- Schedule regular testing.
- Keep records on-site including permits, spill bucket tests, line tests, and any other required documentation.
- Organize records at each location for easy reference by inspectors.
Who is impacted? All owners/operators of USTs. These regulations are not only relevant to large corporations or commercial service stations. Municipalities with storage tanks for city garages and emergency vehicle fleets are included, as are small “mom and pop” family-owned businesses.
If your company does not possess the expertise needed to formulate and continue a storage tank compliance program, engage a company experienced in environmental testing and consulting to conduct these important safety and environmental compliance services for you.