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Federal Underground Tank Regulations


In 1984, Congress added Subtitle I to the Resource Conservation And Recovery Act requiring EPA to regulate underground storage tanks (USTs). The goals of the law are:

  • To prevent leaks and spills;
  • To find leaks and spills;
  • To correct problems created by leaks and spills;
  • To ensure owners and operators are able to pay for spill cleanup;
  • To develop and approve State regulatory program for USTs.

In 1988, EPA passed federal UST regulations (40 CFR 280 and 281) laying out a comprehensive program for the monitoring and upgrading of USTs in the Nation. Because the regulations were developed after the New York regulations, they differ from New York's in five major ways:

  • The federal regulations cover crude oil and any fraction thereof and provide an exemption for tanks storing heating oil used consumptively on premises and tanks less than 1,100 gallons storing motor fuels at farms and residences.
  • The regulations cover underground tanks over 110 gallons.
  • Tanks must have some form of leak detection such as annual tightness testing.
  • Tanks were required to be upgraded by December 22, 1998 to satisfy leak detection and corrosion protection requirements.
  • Site assessments must be performed when a tank is permanently taken out of service.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation implements all aspects of the program with the exception of enforcement. Violations are reported by the State to EPA for enforcement.

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