As referenced in a previous blog, new Underground Storage Tank (UST) regulations 310 CMR 80.00 became effective in Massachusetts on January 2, 2015.
The updated regulations establish new or expand upon the existing requirements with respect to such things as cathodic protection, registration, containment sumps, spill and overfill protection, inventory reconciliation and third party inspections.
One area of the regulations that was NOT changed was the requirement that all single walled steel tanks must be removed by August 7, 2017.
This requirement may give rise to concern for some owners eligible for reimbursement under the Massachusetts Petroleum Cleanup Fund (the “21J Fund”). While the vast majority of UST facilities eligible for reimbursement under the 21J Fund need not be concerned with the requirement, there are approximately 200 facilities that should take note.
Since its inception in 1994, the 21J Fund has approved nearly $450 million for environmental cleanup costs at Dispensing Facilities* throughout the Commonwealth. At this writing, it is estimated that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a budget deficit of nearly $800 million. Only time will tell as to whether this fiscal crisis will impact the 21J Fund operations. Many similar state programs throughout the country have addressed their programmatic challenges by establishing deadlines in which one could continue to submit claims.
Although the 21J Fund has weathered numerous budgetary dilemmas throughout its history, predicting whether the pattern will continue through the 2017 upgrade cycle is at best uncertain. For any of those in the 200 single walled facility population, it may be wise to evaluate whether waiting to the last minute to upgrade your facility will be the best choice. Competition for reimbursement proceeds from the 21J Fund as a result of the 2017 deadline will undoubtedly be at a premium.
*Defined under the 21J Fund regulations in relevant part as, “any Facility … at which Underground Storage Tanks … are used to store gasoline or other fractions of Petroleum Products and from which gasoline or other fractions of Petroleum Products are dispensed directly to a motor vehicle or Boat as motor fuel …”
William Alpine is Corporate Counsel/Director of Cost Recovery for ATC. He was previously the Executive Director of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 21J Fund. ATC has served the petroleum industry with its environmental, due diligence and regulatory compliance needs for over 30 years. Bill can be reached at (781) 246-8897 or firstname.lastname@example.org.