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Tank Bulletin

July 2012

UST Operator Training in NY State

The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires state environmental regulatory agencies to develop training requirements for operators of underground storage tanks (USTs). Operators must demonstrate their knowledge of how to properly operate and maintain UST systems. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is currently revising its Petroleum Bulk Storage (PBS) regulations, which will incorporate the federal UST operator training requirements..

Some states already have operator training programs that require training to be completed on or before August 8, 2012. New York's program, however, is still in development and a training deadline is yet to be established. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is also currently developing its operator training requirements. This means that UST operator training requirements will go into effect in New York State when either the New York State or USEPA regulations take effect. DEC currently estimates that both the New York State and USEPA will be completed by late 2013 (subject to change). The following Frequently Asked Questions provide further detail.

1. Who must be trained and what must the training cover?

DEC will identify three classes of operators and minimum requirements for each class in accordance with the USEPA's guidelines. The three operator classes and the objectives of training are as follows:

Class A operators have primary responsibility to operate and maintain the UST system and typically manage resources and personnel to achieve and maintain compliance. Training for Class A operators should allow the operator to make informed decisions regarding compliance with regulatory requirements.

Class B operators have daily responsibility for on-site operation and maintenance of UST systems. Training for Class B operators should provide an in-depth understanding of operation and maintenance aspects of UST systems.

Class C operators are daily on-site employees who are generally the first line of response to actual or potential emergencies. Training should allow the Class C operator to take appropriate action in response to UST-related emergencies or alarms caused by spills or releases from an UST system. A person may be designated to more than one operator class as long as they are trained in each operator class for which they are designated.

2. Must the training be periodically repeated?

USEPA requires states to specify retraining requirements for operators. DEC will, at a minimum, require retraining and retesting in those topics where a significant compliance violation has been identified. Details of this aspect of the operator training program will be specified in the revised PBS regulations.

3. What documentation will I need to maintain?

UST system owners will be required to maintain records that show that the operators have been trained and have demonstrated competency in accordance with applicable regulations.

4. Can I designate a third-party as my Class A and/or Class B operator?

Yes, DEC expects that facilities will be able to designate third parties as Class A and Class B operators. Details of this aspect of the operator training program will be specified in the revised PBS regulations.

5. Will DEC approve trainers or training classes for operators?

DEC does not anticipate specifying training requirements for operators beyond what USEPA has already defined. DEC intends to develop operator training guidance and examinations for Class A and Class B operators. The examinations will be administered separately from the training class. We do not anticipate approving any trainers or training programs. This approach will allow the regulated community to develop its own training, which will allow greater flexibility and may allow it to be completed more quickly and at less cost. DEC anticipates working with the Commissioner's PBS Advisory Council and others in the regulated community in the development of this guidance and the examinations. Details of these aspects of the operator training program will be specified in the revised PBS regulations.

6. USEPA is developing federal UST operator training requirements. Will the federal operator training requirements apply to facilities with federally-regulated USTs?

The federal operator training requirements will apply to UST operators in New York only if the federal requirements go into effect before DEC requirements go into effect.

7. Where can I obtain additional information on operator training requirements?

Information regarding operator training is available on USEPA's web site at http://www.epa.gov/OUST/fedlaws/optraing.htm (See "Links Leaving DEC's Website" on the right column of this web page). That site provides access to the USEPA's operator training guidelines, the status of states' compliance with the USEPA's guidelines, and an operator training resource guide and accompanying spreadsheet. DEC will provide more information on operator training at Chemical and Petroleum Storage as it becomes available. That web page also has links to several DEC web pages pertaining to the Bulk Storage programs.

UST operators can receive updates on operator training and additional information about the PBS program by subscribing to the Tank Bulletin email notification service (see below).

Revisions to Bulk Storage Regulations

DEC is revising all of its regulations that address the bulk storage of petroleum and hazardous chemicals. This includes the Petroleum Bulk Storage (PBS) program, the Major Oil Storage Facility (MOSF) program, and the Chemical Bulk Storage (CBS) program. The main goal of completing these rulemakings is to consolidate existing federal regulations into the existing State regulations. This will make it possible for bulk storage facility owners and operators to have one set of regulations that describe what must be done to be in compliance with both State and federal rules. The regulations will establish separate requirements for underground tanks that are USEPA-regulated and for underground tanks that are exempt from the USEPA regulations (e.g., tanks storing heating oil for consumptive use on the premises).

The revisions to the State regulations will include the changes made to the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) in 2008. Many of these changes originated in the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 and are described in the April 2009 issue of the Tank Bulletin. In summary, the main revisions are to: (1) change the definition of petroleum to be consistent with the federal definition; (2) change the definition of "facility" to be based upon the location (property) of the tanks rather than upon the tanks themselves (resulting in property owners, rather than tank owners, being required to register facilities with DEC); (3) incorporate the federal requirements for prohibiting deliveries of petroleum to tanks with significant violations of the regulations; (4) incorporate requirements for secondary containment of piping and dispensers (also known as under dispenser containment); and (5) incorporate requirements for operator training.

DEC recognizes that it will likely be necessary to revise the PBS regulations as a result of currently proposed changes to the corresponding federal regulation (40 CFR Part 280). However, with the exception of certain matters such as secondary containment, operator training, and delivery prohibition requirements, the requirements of the final version of the federal regulatory revisions and when the final regulation will be promulgated are both uncertain. Therefore, any other changes to DEC's PBS regulations required by revisions to 40 CFR Part 280 will be made as part of a future rulemaking after the federal revisions are finalized.

Lubricating Oil Tanks at Repair Shops

DEC frequently receives questions regarding the regulation of lubricating oil (virgin and used) stored at an automotive repair facility. Here are a few examples of some common questions and answers.

1. The instructions for a PBS application indicate that a deed must be submitted to document a change in facility ownership. What about repair shops where the company that supplies the virgin lube oil also supplies the storage tank? Who registers these tanks and where is this specified in law/regulation?

ECL Article 17, Title 10, Section 17-1003 specifies that the owner of the property where the tank is located is responsible for registering the tank/facility. The latest version of the application form requires that the identity of the property owner and tank owner be provided. This change will also be incorporated into the revised PBS regulations (see above).

2. An automobile repair shop has a 275 gallon used oil tank plus three totes (70 gallons each) containing new lubricating or transmission fluid. Do these tanks need to be registered? What would be the fee?

If the totes are not used as stationary tanks, the lubricating oil and transmission fluid totes do not need to be registered. If the totes are used as storage tanks (i.e., left in place with deliveries made to the totes to refill them), then they are considered storage tanks which must be registered and must comply with all of the PBS requirements if located at a facility. Since this example site has less than 1,100 gallons of total storage capacity and no underground storage tanks, it is not considered a facility. (See question #4 below regarding use of an aboveground plastic tank.) All stationary used oil tanks must be registered regardless of capacity. There is no fee to register used oil tanks if they reside at a property with a combined capacity of less than 1,101 gallons. For further information regarding used oil PBS requirements, see 6 NYCRR 374-2.3(c)(2) and DEC's Used Oil website.

3. What are the main equipment requirements for small tanks storing used oil at an automobile repair shop?

The main requirements for a typical used oil tank at an automobile repair shop include:

  • the tank must be labeled "USED OIL"; and may also be labeled with a purple square (color code for used oil)[374-2.3(c)(8), 613.3(b)];
  • aboveground tanks must be labeled with the tank identification number and show the design and working capacities on the tank and at the gauge [374-2.3(c)(8)(i), 613.3(c)(3)(ii)];
  • underground tanks must be labeled with the tank capacity at the fill pipe [374-2.3(c)(8)(ii)];
  • a product level gauge or high level alarm must be installed [6 NYCRR 613.3(c)(3)];
  • secondary containment is required for aboveground used oil tanks if it could reasonably expected that a spill from the tank could impact the surface or groundwaters of the State [613.3(c)(6)]; and
  • secondary containment is required for underground used oil tanks with capacities greater than 110 gallons installed after December 27, 1986 [6 NYCRR 614.4].

4. Can I store used oil in an aboveground plastic tank?

The regulations (see 374.2-3 (c)(2)(ii)) require that tanks installed after December 27, 1986 be in compliance with Part 614 of the PBS regulations. Unless a variance is granted, the PBS regulations specify that aboveground tanks be constructed of steel.

Subscribe to the NYSDEC Tank Bulletin Mailing List

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (NYSDEC) Division of Environmental Remediation maintains an email list for those who would like to receive information regarding the Department's petroleum and chemical bulk storage programs. This mailing list is used only by the NYSDEC so you will only receive information from the Department.

To subscribe to the Tank Bulletin and receive other notifications from the Department regarding bulk storage issues, sign into GovDelivery and enter your email and other information requested. When you get to the list of topics, click the box next to "Petroleum and Chemical Storage" under "Prevent and Control Pollution."