Till the mid 1980s most underground storage tanks (USTs) were made of steel. Unfortunately, the material eroded with time making hazardous leaks inevitable which ultimately poisoned water supplies and soil. To prevent this from happening in the future, certain laws and regulations were passed to protect human health and the environment.
In 1984 for instance, a new federal program was introduced which regulated USTs that contained hazardous materials. In addition, the EPA set operating and technical standards for tank design and installation as well as for overfill, closure and leak detection.
Similarly, in 1986, the EPA was authorized to respond to petroleum leaks and spills that originate from USTs. They are also authorized to make owners and operators financially responsible for covering the costs for corrective actions and to compensate third parties that are affected by the leaks.
In the same year, a Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) trust fund was also created to watch over cleanup activities by the responsible parties. It is also responsible for enforcing cleanup activities and also provides funds for them in case owners are unable or unwilling to pay. Check out 2015 regulations for a comprehensive list.