Underground storage tanks are commonly used to hold products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and heating oil.

What Is an Underground Storage Tank?

An underground storage tank system (UST) is a storage tank (and associated piping connected to the tank) that has at least 10 percent of its combined volume underground. Federal UST regulations apply only to UST systems storing either petroleum or certain hazardous substances which include gasoline service stations/retail sales and non-marketers storing product for their own use.  USTs which do not have to meet the federal regulations include USTs containing heating oil for on premise use and farm and residential USTs for noncommercial purposes of 1,100 gallons or less. 

Leaking Underground Storage Tanks

The most significant concern with a UST is the potential for a release of the UST contents and the subsequent adverse impacts to soil, groundwater and the potential for petroleum vapors to migrate into surrounding buildings.  A leaking underground storage tank (LUST) can be caused by improper installation, maintenance, overfills, operation, and/or corrosion.

Regulations for Underground Storage Tanks

Since the 1980s, Congress has amended and passed various laws to help regulate inspections, education, training, spill prevention and financial responsibility associated with USTs. Many of these laws aim to prevent USTs from becoming LUSTs.

Congress passed the most recent underground storage tank regulations in 2015. These federal regulations focus on proper operation and maintenance of USTs, including:

  • Additional requirements for UST compatibility for storing biofuels
  • Required regular operation and maintenance of UST systems
  • Additional requirements for new or replaced tanks and piping

You will also need to check your state laws, as they may be more strict than the EPA laws.

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All owners and operators, whether or not your UST meets the EPA definition, must follow these regulations:

  • Meet financial responsibility requirements, as the owner/operator will pay for any clean up from a LUST
  • Check the site to prevent any spills, leaks and overfills and fix any issues
  • Check regularly for corrosion and leak detection systems
  • Abide by the regulations for installing new or closing existing tanks
  • Maintain records for leak detection maintenance and performance, rectifier inspections and corrosion analysis report

As an owner or operator of a UST in Pennsylvania, you should be aware of the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund (USTIF). The purpose of this state fund is to financially help owners and operators with the clean-up fees (corrective action and third-party liability) for releases from a LUST.  USTIF maintains a 60-day deadline from the knowledge of a potential release to make a claim or they will deny coverage.

Call GSI Environmental for Your Remediation Needs

If your UST becomes a LUST, you will need to call upon the services of an environmental remediation company to contain and repair the issue. GSI Environmental has over 30 years of experience in remediating contaminated soil and groundwater. We use conventional and innovative technologies for an efficient and cost-effective process. We will come to you wherever your location.

Contact us at 717.691.9799 or reach out online to learn more.

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