On July 15, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized revisions to its underground storage tank (UST) regulations for the first time since 1988. The final rule focuses on improving prevention and detection of UST releases by making changes to the training, testing, and inspection requirements. The rule also codifies certain requirements of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, such as the requirement for state agencies to develop minimum training requirements for the three classes of UST operators. The final rule becomes effective October 13, 2015, but allows up to three years before compliance is required for certain provisions.
One of the revisions EPA made was to lower the required frequency for testing certain overfill spill prevention equipment from annually to once every three years. EPA has also revised requirements applicable to USTs that contain ethanol and biodiesels, providing three options for establishing that the tanks are compatible with the fuel: using equipment certified as compatible by a third party, using equipment approved by the manufacturer as compatible, or by another method approved by the state regulator. Further, in an effort to protect groundwater, the revisions require secondary containment for certain new and replaced tanks along with under-dispenser containment systems. The secondary containment requirements for replaced tanks are to be implemented 180 days from the effective date.
The Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA) has announced its support of the final rule. Specifically, PMAA was receptive of the elimination of a provision from the initially proposed revisions which would have required periodic interstitial integrity testing of secondary containment areas. PMAA asserted these measures would have been costly and could potentially damage equipment.
EPA estimates the annual cost of regulatory compliance to be $160 million, which is lower than the $290 million initially projected for the proposed rule. EPA also estimates that avoided cleanup costs will result in a $310 million annual cost savings.