In 2015, EPA has made some significant revisions to the existing 1988 underground storage tank regulation that will affect most, if not all 558,000 US underground storage tanks (USTs) that store petroleum or hazardous substances. In states with EPA-approved standards, the state’s UST regulation will still be honored in lieu of the federal regulation, to give businesses with USTs a full three years to adjust their standard in accordance with new federal guidelines.
Here are the important changes in the EPA regulation:
- Adding secondary containment requirements for new and replaced tanks and piping
- Adding operator training requirements
- Adding periodic operation and maintenance requirements for UST systems
- Adding requirements to ensure UST system compatibility before storing certain biofuel blends, and
- Removing past deferrals for emergency generator tanks, airport hydrant systems, and field-constructed tanks.
Here’s a breakdown of some key changes made by EPA:
Starting from April 2016, owners and operators must add a secondary contained tank and piping when installing or replacing tanks and piping. In addition, operators are also required to use interstitial monitoring as release detection for these new or replaced tanks and piping.
Operating training requirements
One of the critical update made by concentrates on setting minimum training requirements for designated Class A, Class B, and Class C operators. Also, EPA requires all operators to complete their respective training programs by October 13, 2018. Beyond that schedule, new Class A and Class B operators will then be expected to comply with the new training requirements within 30 days of assuming their duties. Finally, Class C operators will then need to complete training before being cleared to operate USTs.
If training sounds like a tedious process, check out the HAZWOPER Safety Training online which can be accessed 24/7, as long as you have an active internet connection. With web-based training, operators will now be able to fast-track and take control of their compliance requirements.
UST Owners and operators must now conduct walkthrough inspections at their UST facility. A qualified person must inspect the spill prevention equipment and release detection equipment every 30 days, while containment pumps and other handheld equipment must be checked annually.
Also, EPA moved some UST system categories from deferred to partially-excluded. While for other categories, EPA removed the deferral and now regulates those UST systems. The following are partially excluded from the UST regulation:
- Wastewater treatment tank systems that are not already completely excluded from the UST regulation;
- UST systems containing radioactive material regulated under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954; and
- UST systems that are part of an emergency generator system at nuclear power generation facilities licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and subject to NRC requirements regarding design and quality criteria.
While spills and releases have significantly died down since 1988, it’s still important to update and maintain USTs according to federal guidelines. Ultimately, a properly installed and maintained equipment should still be the best way to keep the workplace and the environment safe from chemical spills and hazards.