EPA forcing facilities to beef up UST leak prevention, detection

EPA forcing facilities to beef up UST leak prevention, detection

But this change could save money in long run
Watch out. EPA's planning to force facilities with underground storage tanks (UST) to beef up their ability to prevent any leaks.

To do this, the agency wants tank owners and operators to:
• install secondary containment systems to capture leaks and spills
• add release prevention and detection technologies to new and repaired tank systems, and
• meet new operational and maintenance requirements.

More training for empioyees
Plus, facilities will face new employee training requirements to ensure that they know how to:
• inspect storage tanks and piping systems for leaks
• respond to leak warnings, and
• notify emergency agencies once a leak is discovered.

Failure to comply would risk fines of up to $37,500 per day, per violation.

Nearly 1 million tanks affected
The changes are detailed in a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) proposal from EPA that addresses 959,000 active underground tanks at 214,000 facilities. This RCRA Subtitle 1 proposal will tighten operation of tanks used to store motor fuels and hazardous chemicals. It's the first revision of national UST standards since they were issued in 1988.

Investment avoids costly cleanups
The new UST rules will cost industry about $210 million a year, EPA estimates.  However, this investment is well worth it, the agency says, because it will save tank owners and operators up to $770 million a year that's currently spent cleaning up petroleum and chemical contamination.

The proposal also calls for eliminating exemptions enjoyed by several industries. EPA proposes to extend RCRA tank requirements to:
• tanks used to store fuel for power generators
• wastewater treatment tanks
• airport hydrant fuel distribution systems, and
• tanks used on construction sites. These exemptions were granted in 1998 because technology wasn't available then for these situations. These exemptions are no longer justified, EPA says, because systems are now available that economically sound alarms for spills and leaks.

Reprinted with permission from:

Environmental Compliance Alert 12/12/11

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